This Months Sky

News on what is visable in this months sky as posted by Adrian Zielonka's in his monthly sky notes.

Thank you Adrian and thank you CADAS.

The January night sky

Full Moon – 2nd
Last Quarter – 8th
New Moon – 17th
First Quarter – 24th
Full Moon – 31st

Mercury reaches greatest western elongation from the Sun on the 1st.

On the morning of the 2nd, Comet 24P Schaumasse (12 magnitude as on 11th Dec) will be just inside the constellation of Virgo and less than 1 degree from the 3.87 magnitude star mu Virginis. (for further details please visit website above)

From the 3rd – 6th Comet C/2016 R2 Panstarrs will be passing very close to the 3.65 magnitude star gamma Tauri in the constellation of Taurus. On the 5th it will be at its closest to the star and 2.088 AU from the Earth. It was at 10 magnitude on 11th Dec. A star chart and four daily positions will show its location for 9:00pm. This will be sent separately to this newsletter as 2/3. It is at perihelion in June 2018. (Strong binoculars or telescope will be best for viewing this)

Comet C/2017 T1 Heinze is at its closest to the Earth on 3rd/4th. It will be just 0.223AU from us which is less than a quarter of the distance to the Sun. It was at 14th magnitude on the 11th Dec. It may brighten somewhat as it approaches the Sun. This month it will pass through the constellations of Lynx, Camelopardalis, Cassiopeia, Andromeda, Lacerta and Pegasus in the northern hemisphere. It will reach perihelion on the 21st February. (For further details please visit website above)

The Quadrantid meteor shower reaches its peak on the night of the 3rd/4th. The full Moon may be a hindrance to all but the bright ones.

In the mornings between the 3rd and the 10th, Mars and Jupiter will be no more than 2 degrees apart. At 6:30am they will be in the SSE.

On the 4th at midnight the bright star Regulus will be just 4 degrees to the lower left of the Moon.

An occultation of the Regulus by the Moon occurs on the morning of the 5th starting at 7:50am and would be visible from Somerset except that the sky will be beginning to brighten just beforehand. If you arise in the morning before its too light, do look towards the western sky to see the Moon slowly getting closer to Regulus.

Around 6:00am on the 7th look for Jupiter and Mars in the south eastern sky. There are in an extremely close conjunction together. In fact they may seem to touch one another. At 6:30am they will be in the SSE and 20 degrees above the horizon.

At 11:35pm on the 7th the Moon will be just 1 degree above the horizon and due East.

Pluto is at superior conjunction with the Sun on the 9th.

Venus is in conjunction with the Sun on the 9th and is not visible this month.

On the night of the 10th, Comet 62P Tsuchinshan will be in the Virgo constellation. At 2:00am it will be in a straight line with 1st magnitude star Spica and the 3.38 magnitude star zeta Virginis. It will be about 3 degrees to the upper left of zeta Virginis. In mid-February it will be at its closest to Earth at a distance of 1.025AU. It was at 12 magnitude on 11th Dec. (A telescope will be best for viewing this) For further details please visit website above.

On the 10th at 6:30am, Jupiter will be 13 degrees to the lower left of the Moon with Mars 1½ degrees lower left of Jupiter.

At 6:30am on the 11th, the Moon will be in SSE. Jupiter and Mars will be just 1½ degrees apart and below the Moon. Jupiter being 3½ degrees and Mars 4½ degrees away from the Moon.

On the 12th at 6:30am, Mars will be 9½ degrees to the right of the crescent Moon with Jupiter, 2 degrees to the upper right of Mars.

On the 13th at 6:13am the crescent Moon will be due south east. At 7:30am, Saturn and Mercury are in close conjunction and due south east, and 4 degrees above the horizon. Mercury will be ½ degree below Saturn.

On the 14th at 7:00am the thin crescent Moon will be in the SE with Saturn just 1 degree above the horizon and 9 degrees to the lower left of the Moon. At 7:15am, Saturn will be 3 degrees above the horizon with Mercury, 2 degrees to the lower left of it.

At 7:15am on the 15th a very thin crescent Moon will be 3 degrees above the south eastern horizon with Saturn 3½ degrees to the right of it and Mercury, 2 degrees midway below them, forming a nice triangle.

On the evening of the 16th* between 9:00pm and 9:35pm there is a scheduled launch of Epsilon Asnaro 2 from Uchinoura Space Centre, Japan. With a mass of 570 kilograms, it can deliver all-weather, round-the-clock radar imagery at a ground sample distance of one metre and an observable width of 10km.

On the 18th a very thin crescent Moon will be seen low in the south western sky from around 5:20pm till it sets soon after 6:00pm.

At 5:16pm on the 19th the Moon will be due south west.

On the 20th at 5:45pm, Neptune will be 3 degrees directly above the Moon and 1 degree to the above left of the 3.74 magnitude star Hudoor (Ekchusus) in the constellation of Aquarius.

At 7:30pm on the 23rd, Uranus will be 7 degrees directly above the Moon.

Venus reaches aphelion (its most distant from the Sun in its orbit) on the 23rd.

On the 24th at 6:45pm, Uranus will be 10½ degrees directly to the right of the Moon.

At 7:00pm on the 25th the Moon will be due south.

On the 25th* there is a planned launch of an Ariane 5 ECA rocket from the Guiana Space Centre in French Guiana. It will carry a pair of commercial satellites (SES 14 & Al Yah 3) into Geostationary Transfer Orbit. SES 14 is an all electric satellite built by Airbus Defence and Space and carries NASA's Global-Scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD) instrument designed to study the interactions of Earth's thermosphere with the solar wind. Al Yah 3, built by Orbital ATK, hosts a powerful Ka-Band payload delivering 58 spot beams to deliver broadband services to Africa and Brazil.

On the 27th at 6:00pm the bright star Aldebaran in Taurus will be 5 degrees to the upper right of the Moon. An occultation of Aldebaran by the Moon occurs this day but will only be seen from Alaska and most of Asia.

Comet185P Petriew will be at perihelion on the 27th and will travel through the constellations of Capricornus and Aquarius this month. It will be nearest to earth mid-February. This is currently a very faint object. (If I notice that this or the other comets change brightness I will try to let you know)

At 6:15pm on the 30th the Moon will be in a straight line with the bright stars Castor and Pollox in Gemini.

A “Total Eclipse of the Moon” occurs on the 31st. Unfortunately it will not be seen here in the UK, Western Europe or South America. At 5:30pm the Full Moon will be 2 degrees above the horizon and due ENE.

By the 31st, Venus sets just 17 minutes after the Sun so its likely to be seen this month until early to mid-February when the planet will become more evident in the evening sky as dusk sets in. It seems a long time since we had some bright planets to view during the evenings.