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See Mars get very close to Neptune at dusk on 7 December

2 Dec 2018, 11:27 UTC
See Mars get very close to Neptune at dusk on 7 December
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Observers in the British Isles looking due south close to 6pm GMT on Friday, 7 December will find magnitude +0.1 planet Mars about 30 degrees, or a span and a half of an outstretched hand at arm’s length, above the horizon. What you won’t see unless you have large binoculars or a small telescope is outermost planet Neptune one-tenth of a degree to the Red Planet’s lower right. Look out for Fomalhaut, the most southerly first-magnitude star visible from the UK, twinkling near the southern horizon. AN graphic by Ade Ashford.Since the beginning of the year, Mars has had conjunctions with Jupiter (7 January), Saturn (2 April) and Pluto (26 April), but its closest approach to a planetary sibling this year occurs on Friday, 7 December 2018 at 14:07 UT (2:07pm GMT) when the Red Planet passes just 2 arcminutes – one-thirtieth of a degree – north of Neptune in the constellation of Aquarius.
The instant of least separation between Mars and Neptune occurs in daylight for the British Isles, but observers here only have to wait a further four hours to see them in a dark sky. As astronomical twilight fades to dark around 6pm GMT in the heart ...

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