Abrams Planetarium
Sky Calendar
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LOCATE URANUS AND NEPTUNE
Link to article and finder charts for 2018 apparitions of Uranus and Neptune:
https://is.gd/urnep
http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/ice-giants-neptune-and-uranus/

PLANET RISING AND SETTING CHARTS:

Here are graphs summarizing visibility of planets in evening and morning skies during School Year 2018-2019, for two locations in California, Palm Springs and Sacramento. Jeffrey L. Hunt created these charts. Dr. Jeffrey L. Hunt, a retired planetarium director now living in the Chicago area, has taught astronomy and sky watching to all ages. He studied astronomy education at Abrams Planetarium at Michigan State University. Jeff writes an astronomy blog at jeffreylhunt.wordpress.com and can be followed on Twitter at @jeff_hunt.

The curves plotted on the "Evening Skies" (upper graph in each city's pair) plot how long after sunset the setting time occurs (object's setting time minus sunset time) for the five naked-eye planets and five first-magnitude stars (Aldebaran, Pollux, Regulus, Spica, and Antares). The reader can immediately pick out on what dates the best apparitions of Mercury occur -- when the curves for Mercury are highest above the baseline time-of-sunset line. Also plotted are times of moonset in relation to sunset time, indicated by the small white open circles. With those, you can tell on what date the thin waxing crescent Moon is likely to be first seen. One application: Determine the dates of the first crescent Moons marking the start of the Islamic month of Ramadan, and the next month, Shawwal. On what evenings in August and September will the crescent Moon and Venus set at approximately the same time? Answer: August 13 and September 11. Look early on those evenings and you'll see them about the same altitude above the western horizon.

Curves plotted on the "Morning Skies" portion of the chart (lower graph in each city's pair) plot how long before sunrise the rising time occurs (sunrise time minus object's rising time) for the same five planets and five stars. The baseline of the second graph is the sunrise time. Small white open circles indicate time of moonrise in relation to sunrise. It looks like Venus and the crescent Moon will rise at nearly the same time on Nov. 6, and that the Moon will rise not long before Venus on Dec. 3 and not long after Venus on Mon. Tues. Dec. 4. By then Venus will be rising more than three hours ahead of the Sun and will be near greatest brilliancy, providing excellent chances to see Venus in the daytime after sunrise, a rewarding schoolyard activity at the start of the school day.

There are a few curves on each chart that look very different from the rest: Rising times on the evening chart, and setting times on the morning chart. These are clearly labeled and look like a row of beads, and are done for the outer planets when near opposition to the Sun (rising in the evening after sunset before the planet's opposition, or setting in the morning before sunrise after the planet's opposition). In August 2018, Mars is a current example of the latter. If you get up early enough these mornings, you can still catch brilliant Mars before it sets in the southwest.



Robert C. Victor was Staff Astronomer at Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University. He is now retired and enjoys providing skywatching opportunities for school children in and around Palm Springs.

Robert D. Miller, who provided the twilight charts and the planet orbit charts, did graduate work in Planetarium Science and later astronomy and computer science at Michigan State University and remains active in research and public outreach in astronomy.

Address.

Abrams Planetarium
755 Science Road
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824

Phone Numbers.

Planetarium Phone: (517) 355 4676

Email.

Robert C. Victor -- victor @ msu.edu