Dec 2018

Mars and Neptune REAL close Dec 7

by Brett Tatton

I hope we get to observe Neptune and Mars next week when they are as close to each other as one half the Moon's diameter!

Mars will be quite obvious in the south above bright Fomalhaut -Alpha Piscis Austrini (the Alpha star of the Southern Fish).

I made these finder charts with Sky Safari to help show the area of sky and then to provide enough detail to help identify Neptune.


Finding Neptune using Mars alone may not be the way to go. The relative position of Neptune to the Red Planet is changing as Mars streaks across the sky! Alternatively I suggest using 81 and 82 Aquarii as pointers. (See last chart below) Eighth magnitude Neptune is almost in a line with these two magnitude 6 stars.


On the detailed chart (below) I have identified the star HD217572 for you to use as a brightness comparison to Neptune. Both are at about magnitude 8 (give or take a decimal).


I hope the skies co-operate and I hope these notes and the charts will help you to zeroing in on Neptune!