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 April night sky

Hi All

Here is the astronomy news for April.

From Adrian Zielonka

Astronomy News

Night Sky 2018 – April

Sunrise Sunset Mercury Rises Venus Sets
1st – 6:47am 1st – 7:44pm 5th – 6:19am 1st – 9:29pm
10th – 6:27am 10th – 7:58pm 10th – 6:02am 10th – 9:58pm
20th – 6:06am 20th – 8:15pm 15th – 5:49am 20th – 10:29pm
30th – 5:46am 30th – 8:31pm 20th – 5:37am 30th – 11:00pm
Moon Rise Moon Set Moon Rise Moon Set
1st - 8:55pm 1st – 7:37am 16th – 6:55am (New) 16th – 8:37pm (New)
2nd - 10:06pm 2nd - 8:02am 17th – 7:22am 17th – 9:54pm
3rd 3rd – 8:28am 18th – 7:54am 18th – 11:09pm
5th – 12:19am 4th – 8:57am 19th – 8:31am 20th – 12:22am
6th – 1:19am 5th – 9:30am 20th – 9:17am 21st – 1:28am
7th – 2:14am 6th – 10:08am 21st – 10:12am
8th – 3:02am (LQ) 7th – 10:52am 22nd – 11:16am (FQ) 22nd – 2:26am (FQ)
9th – 3:44am 8th – 11:42am (LQ) 23rd – 12:27pm 23rd – 3:13am
10th - 4:20am 9th – 12:38pm 24th – 1:41pm 24th – 3:52am
11th – 4:51am 10th – 1:38pm 25th – 2:56pm 25th – 4:24am
12th – 5:19am 11th – 2:42pm 26th – 4:11pm 26th – 4:52am
13th – 5:44am 12th – 3:49pm 27th – 5:25pm 27th – 5:16am
14th – 6:07am 13th – 4:58pm 28th – 6:37pm 28th – 5:40am
15th – 6:31am 14th – 6:09pm 29th – 7:48pm 29th – 6:04am
15th – 7:22pm 30th – 8:58pm (Full) 30th – 6:28am (Full)

A useful site: Heaven Above for satellite predictions and other astronomical data customised for your location.

A S Zielonka

There is a scheduled launch sometime this month* from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California as part of an Iridium commercial satellite launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. GRACE-FO (GRACE Follow-On), a partnership between NASA and the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ), is a successor to the GRACE mission, which tracks Earth's gravity field and water movement.

There is a planned launch this month* from Xichang, China. A Chinese Long March 3B rocket will launch the APStar-6C commercial communications satellite for APT Satellite Company Ltd under an end-to-end contract signed with China Great Wall Industry Corp (CGWIC).

Comet C/2016 N6 Panstarrs will be in the northern constellation of Camelopardalis this month. Its last observable magnitude was 12.5 (Mar 12th) It reaches perihelion this July. For further information please see 'Comets' and 'Constellations' in the website above.

For the first week this month before dawn Comet 24P Schaumasse will be approximately half way between the two bright stars Sabik and Zeta Ophiuchi in the constellation of Ophiuchus. Its last known magnitude was 13 (Mar 12th). For further information please see 'Comets' and 'Constellations' in the website above.

Mercury is at inferior conjunction on the 1st. It also rises no more than 30 minutes before the Sun this month and is unlikely to be seen in the dawn sky unless conditions are very favourable.

From the 1st - 5th at 5:45am in the SSE, Saturn and Mars will be no more than 2 degrees apart. On the 3rd they will be just 1¼ degrees apart with Saturn just above Mars.

There is a scheduled launch on the 2nd* at 9:30pm* from Cape Canaveral, Florida of a SpaceX Falcon 9 FT rocket (Possible Re-Use). It will launch the 14th operational Dragon cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) with supplies and equipment. The Falcon 9 first stage will attempt a Return to Launch Site recovery via a powered landing in Cape Canaveral's Landing Zone1.

At 5:00am in the SSW on the 3rd, Jupiter will be 7 degrees to the lower left of the Moon in the constellation of Libra. At the same time 13 degrees above the SSE horizon, Mars will be 1½ degrees below the planet Saturn in Sagittarius.

On the 4th at 5:30am in the SSW, Jupiter will be 7 degrees to the lower right of the Moon.

The Moon will lie approximately midway between Saturn in the SSE and Jupiter in the SSW on the morning of the 5th.

There is a planned launch on the 5th* from Kennedy Space Center of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Its payload is a 3.5 metric ton Bangabandhu-1 communications satellite for the Bangladash Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), becoming the first geostationary communications satellite operated by the small Asian nation.

The Serpentids meteor shower reaches its peak on the evening of the 5th.

On the 6th Saturn will be 16 degrees to the lower left of the Moon with Mars 2½ degrees lower left of Saturn.

At 5:30am on the 7th, Saturn will be 4 degrees to the lower left of the Moon with Mars just under 3 degrees ton the lower right of Saturn.

At around the same time also on the 7th the asteroid Vesta is 5½ degrees to the upper right of the Moon. For further information please see 'Asteroids' and 'Star Chart' in the website above.

On the 8th at 5:30am in the SSE, Mars will be 5½ degrees to the right of the Moon with Saturn just 3 degrees to the upper right of Mars.

On the 9th at 4:50am the Moon will be due south east and just 7 degrees above the horizon.

During the evenings between the 10th - 18th the asteroid Ceres will pass within ½ a degree of the 4th magnitude star Iota Cancri in the constellation of Cancer which is approximately halfway between Castor in Gemini and the top of the back to front '?' in the Leo constellation. For further information please see 'Asteroids' and 'Star Chart' in the website above.

From 5:00am on the 11th the crescent Moon will be just above the ESE horizon.

There is a planned launch on the 12th* from Cape Canaveral, Florida of an Atlas V rocket. The Air Force Space Command 11 Mission for the U.S. Air Force, utilizing the heavy-lift Atlas V 551 configuration with five Solid Rocket Boosters on the vehicle's first stage. Its mission will fly an as-of-yet undisclosed primary payload and a number of secondary payloads hosted on the ESPA Augmented Geostationary Laboratory Experiment (EAGLE).

On the 12th at 5:40am the crescent Moon will be due ESE and just 2 degrees above the horizon. Neptune is also just above the eastern horizon and 10 degrees to the left of the Moon.

There is a scheduled launch planned for the 16th* at 1:32pm* of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida. NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is an all-sky survey mission that will discover thousands of exoplanets around nearby stars. It will host an array of telescopes designed to focus the nearest 200 Light Years from Earth for exoplanet candidates.

Saturn reaches aphelion (its most distant from the Sun in its orbit on the 17th.

On the 17th at 8:45pm a very thin crescent Moon will be 7 degrees to the lower left of Venus in the west.

Uranus is at superior conjunction with the Sun on the 18th.

At 9:00pm on the 18th Venus will be 12 degrees to the lower right of the crescent Moon

On the 19th* there is a planned launch from Guiana Space Center, French Guiana of an Ariane 5 rocket. GSAT-11 and Intelsat 38 communications satellites will be put into Geostationary Transfer Orbit. GSAT-11 is India’s largest and most-powerful communications satellite to date. Intelsat 38 / Azerspace-2, built by Space Systems Loral, will be operated by Intelsat and Azercosmos.

An occultation of the bright star Aldebaran in Taurus by the Moon occurs on the 19th . Unfortunately it will only be seen from parts of Canada, Greenland, Scandinavia and Russia.

On the 19th at 9:30pm the crescent Moon will be due west.

In the west after 9:00pm from the 20th - 23rd, Comet C/2016 R2 Panstarrs will be passing 1 degree to the above right of the 3.69 magnitude star Zeta Aurigae Its last observed magnitude was 11 (Mar 12th). For further information please see 'Comets' and 'Constellations' in the website above. It will be at perihelion in early May.

On the 21st the asteroid 7 Iris will be within a 1/4 of a degree from the 3rd magnitude star Zeta Tauri in Taurus constellation. For further information please see 'Asteroids' and 'Sky Charts in the website above.

There is a planned launch on the 22nd* from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. A Russian government-operated Proton-M rocket with Briz-M upper stage will launch the second of four planned Blagovest dual-use communications satellites. The satellites are used for high-speed Internet services, TV distribution, radio broadcasting and voice/video networking.

At 9:00pm on the 22nd the two bright stars Castor and Pollux in Gemini point the way to the Moon.

The Lyrids meteor shower reaches its peak on the evening of the 22nd.

The Puppids meteor shower reaches its peak on the evening of the 23rd.

On the 24th at 9:00pm the bright star Regulus in Leo is less than ½ a degree below from the Moon. An occultation of the bright star Regulus (Leo) occurs just befor sunset today. This will only be visible from a small area of central North Russia.

There is a planned launch on the 25th* from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Russia. A Russian Rockot Booster – a converted UR-100N ballistic missile topped by a Briz-KM upper stage – will launch the Sentinel-3B satellite operated by ESA under the European Commission’s Copernicus Earth Observation Program. The Sentinel-3 satellites are the most-heavily instrumented satellites flying under Copernicus, hosting four instruments to deliver accurate data on land and ocean colour and topography as well as sea and land surface temperature with a rapid global revisit time and fast data availability for use in operational applications.

Low in the WSW during the evening of 26th the asteroid 2 Pallas will be 1½ degrees from the 2.7 magnitude star Cursa in the constellation of Eridanus which is 3½ degrees from the brightest star - Rigel in Orion. For further information please see 'Asteroids' and 'Sky Charts in the website above.

At 9:00pm on the 27th the 2.74 magnitude star Porrima in Virgo is just 1½ degrees to the right of the Moon.

Mercury reaches maximum western elongation from the Sun on the 29th. Mercury rises at 5:20am on this day.

At midnight on the 29th Jupiter will be 11 degrees to the lower left of the Moon and at 5:00am on the following morning they will be just 9 degrees apart.

At 10:00pm on the 30th Jupiter will be just 3½ degrees to the right of the Full Moon.

* = Dates and times are subject to change.

Facts: Frank Borman was a hero of the American Space Odyssey. He led the first team of American astronauts to circle the Moon, extending man's horizons into space. He is internationally known as the Commander of the 1968 Apollo 8 mission. A romance with airplanes that began when he was just 15 years old, took Frank Borman to the Air Force then to NASA.

News: Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) will provide prime targets for further, more detailed characterization with the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), as well as other large ground-based and space-based telescopes of the future. TESS stars will be 30-100 times brighter than those surveyed by the Kepler satellite. It will comprise the most favorable targets for detailed investigations in the coming decades.

News Extra: For those of us stuck in light polluted areas there is a webcam operated by the Shetland tourist board: Shetland web cams. Cliff Cam 3 looks north from Sumburgh Head. On a clear winters night you may get a good chance to get a glimpse of the Northern Lights or in the coming months view the seabird colonies as they rest on the cliff's edge.

The March night sky

March Night Sky 2018

Sunrise

1st – 6:56am

5th – 6:47am

10th – 6:36am

15th – 6:25am

20th – 6:14am

25th – 7:03am

30th – 6:52am

Sunset

1st – 5:52pm

5th – 5:59pm

10th – 6:07pm

15th – 6:15pm

20th – 6:24pm

25th – 7:32pm

30th – 7:40pm

Mercury Sets

1st – 6:43pm

5th – 7:10pm

10th – 7:40pm

15th – 7:59pm

20th – 8:00pm

25th – 8:40pm

30th – 8:03pm

Venus Sets

1st – 6:51pm

5th – 7:03pm

10th – 7:19pm

15th – 7:35pm

20th – 7:51pm

25th – 9:06pm

30th – 9:22pm

Moon Rise

1st – 5:17pm

2nd – 6:35pm (Full)

3rd – 7:51pm

4th – 9:05pm

5th – 10:16pm

6th – 11:24pm

8th – 12:30am

9th – 1:32am (LQ)

10th – 2:29am

11th – 3:21am

12th – 4:07am

13th – 4:46am

14th – 5:20am

15th – 5:50am

16th – 6:17am

17th – 6:41am (New)

18th – 7:05am

Moon Set

1st – 6:50am

2nd – 7:21am (Full)

3rd – 7:48am

4th – 8:13am

5th – 8:38am

6th – 9:03am

7th – 9:30am

8th – 10:00am

9th – 10:35am (LQ)

10th – 11:15am

11th – 12:01pm

12th – 12:54pm

13th – 1:51pm

14th – 2:53pm

15th – 3:59pm

16th – 5:07pm

17th – 6:16pm (New)

18th – 7:27pm

Moon Rise

19th – 7:28am

20th – 7:54am

21st – 8:22am

22nd – 8:54am

23rd – 9:34am

24th – 10:22am (FQ)

25th – 12:19pm

26th – 1:25pm

27th – 2:38pm

28th – 3:54pm

29th – 5:11pm

30th - 6:27pm

31st - 7:42pm (Full)

Moon Set

19th – 8:40pm

20th – 9:53pm

21st – 11:07pm

23rd – 12:20am

24th – 1:29am (FQ)

25th – 3:32am

26th – 4:26am

27th – 5:11am

28th – 5:49am

29th – 6:20am

30th - 6:48am

31st – 7:13am (Full)

Clocks + 1Hr

on the night of

24th March

All times in Notes

are set for

Somerton,

unless stated

A useful site: Heavens-Above.com
Satellite predictions and other astronomical data customised for your location.

A S Zielonka

There is a scheduled launch soon after midnight* on the 28th February* of an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida. It will be the second satellite in a series of next-generation NOAA Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES).

There is a planned launch sometime this month from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan of the Russian Soyuz MS-08 spacecraft. It will carry the new 'Expedition 55' crew members to the International Space Station (ISS). They are NASA astronauts A J (Drew) Feustal and Ricky Arnold and of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, Oleg Artemyev. (See below for details)

An Occultation of Regulus by the Moon occurs on the morning of the 1st. It will disappear behind the Moon at approximately 6:09:58am (as set from Yeovilton). The Moon will be setting at 6:50am as the Sun rises at 6:56am. By 9:00pm the Moon will be 11 degrees from Regulus.

In the west at 9:00pm from the 1st - 3rd, Comet C/2016 R2 Panstarrs will be 2 – 2 ½ degrees to the left of the 2.84 magnitude star Zeta Persei in the constellation of the Perseids. Its last observed magnitude was 11.5 (Feb 12th). It will be at perihelion in early May. For further information please see 'Comets' and 'Constellations' in the website above.

In the south between 5:00 – 6:00am from the 1st - 4th, Comet 24P Schaumasse will be 1½ - 2 degrees below the 2.5 magnitude star Zeta Ophiuchi in the constellation of Ophiuchus. Its last known magnitude was 12 (Feb 12th). For further information please see 'Comets' and 'Constellations' in the website above.

Mercury will be no more than 4 degrees away from Venus during the first three weeks of March. They will be low in the west from 6:45pm at the start of the month. You will be have to be very unlucky not to see Mercury this period. From the 1st - 6th they will be no more than 2 degrees apart. On the 4th they will be at their closest at just 1 degree. For further information please see 'Sky Chart' in the website above.

Low in the east between 5:00 – 6:00pm from the 2nd - 4th, Comet C/2017 T1 Heinze will be 2 – 2½ degrees from the 2.38 magnitude star Enif in the constellation of Pegasus. Its last known magnitude was 9 (Feb 12th). For further information please see 'Comets' and 'Constellations' in the website above.

At 11:00pm on the night 3rd, the 2.74 magnitude star Porrima in the constellation of Virgo will be 1½ degrees below the Moon. At midnight they will be just 1 degree apart.

Neptune is at superior conjunction with the Sun on the 4th.

On the 4th at 11:00pm the Moon will be in between the bright stars Spica (1st Magnitude) and Zeta Virginis (3.38 magnitude) in the constellation of Virgo.

On the night of the 5th at 12:20am, Jupiter will be just 1 degree above the ESE horizon with the Moon 18 degrees to the upper right of it.

On the night of the 6th at 12:20am, Jupiter will be just 2 degrees above the ESE horizon with the Moon 6 degrees above it.

At 12:45am on the night of the 7th the Moon will be just above the ESE horizon with Jupiter 11 degrees to the upper right of it.

On the 8th around 6:00am looking southwards you will see in a staggered line, Saturn, Mars, Moon and Jupiter between the SSE and the SSW.

At 5:45am on the 9th, Mars will be 11 degrees to the lower left of the Moon.

Mercury is at perihelion (closest to the Sun in its orbit) on the 10th.

The Moon on the 10th at 5:30am will be in the SSE with Saturn, 10 degrees to the lower left and Mars, 3½ degrees to the lower right of it.

At 5:30am on the 11th, Saturn will be just 2½ degrees to the right of the crescent Moon.

On the 12th at 5:10am the crescent Moon will be due south east with Saturn, 15½ degrees to the upper right of it.

Comet C/2016 N6 Panstarrs is at it closest to Earth during 11th and 12th when it will be in the constellation of Camelopardalis and 2.601AU from us. Its last observable magnitude was 13 (12th Feb) It reaches perihelion this July. For further information please see 'Comets' and 'Constellations' in the website above.

At 6:00am on the 13th the thin crescent Moon will be due south east.

Comet 62P Tsuchinshan will be in the constellation of Virgo this month. It will be at its closest to earth from 14th - 19th March at a distance of 1.025AU. Its last known observed magnitude was 12.

On the 14th very thin crescent Moon will be just above the ESE horizon from 5:30pm.

Mercury is at maximum eastern elongation from the Sun on the 15th.

There is a scheduled launch on the 18th* from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Its payload are ten Iridium-NEXT mobile communications satellites which will be put into Low Earth Orbit in the continued effort to replace the entire heritage Iridium constellation with upgraded satellites supporting global communications, aeronautical monitoring and ship tracking.

From 6:50pm on the 18th and low in the west, a very thin crescent Moon will be slowly setting with Venus, 5 degrees to the upper right of it, and Mercury 4 degrees to the upper right of Venus. This will be a very good chance to see the inner planets near the Moon.

In the west on the 18th and 19th between 9:00pm and midnight, Comet 185P Petriew will be just a couple of degrees to the left of the 3.61 magnitude star Omicron Tauri in the constellation of Taurus. Its last known observable magnitude was 11.5 (12th Feb).

As the sky darkens around 7:00pm on the 19th the thin crescent Moon will be less than a degree to the left of the 4.45 magnitude star Nu Piscium in the Pisces constellation. (For further information please see 'Constellations' in the website above).

At 7:00pm on the 19th, Uranus will be 5½ degrees to the upper right of the thin crescent Moon. Uranus will be approximately 1½ degrees to the right of the 4.2 magnitude star Omicron Piscium in the constellation of Pisces. (For further information please see 'Constellations' in the website above). The Moon will also be 12½ degrees to the upper left of Venus which is due west. Mercury will be 4 degrees to the upper right of Venus.

There is a scheduled launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The targeted date for launch is the 20th*. Its payload is NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). Its an all-sky survey mission that will discover thousands of exoplanets around nearby bright stars.

On the 20th from 7:00pm till when the Moon sets it will be in the constellation of Cetus between the two 4th magnitude stars Mu Ceti and Xi Ceti which are 5 degrees apart. (For further information please see 'Constellations' in the website above).

The Pleiades star cluster will be 13 degrees above the Moon at 7:00pm on the 21st.

From 10:00pm on the on the 22nd the Moon will be 1 degree or less from Aldebaran in Taurus. An Occultation of Aldebaran by the Moon occurs this evening. It disappears behind the Moon at 11:40:56pm (as set from Yeovilton) when the Moon is just 5 degrees above the WNW horizon.

On the 24th at 10:00pm the Moon will be just 1 degree to the left of the 4th magnitude star Nu Geminorum in the constellation of Gemini. (For further information please see 'Constellations' in the website above).

From 8:30pm on the 28th low in the west there is a very close conjunction between Venus and Uranus. The star Omicron Piscium (4.2 magnitude) in the constellation of Pisces will be 1 degree to the left of Venus.

The Moon will be 4½ degrees to the lower left of the bright star Regulus in the constellation of Leo at 9:00pm on the 28th. There is also an Occultation of Regulus by the Moon which will only be seen from parts of Scandinavia and Russia.

At 6:00am on the 31st, Saturn will be just 2 degrees to the upper left of Mars low in the SSE.

At 11:00pm on the 31st the Moon will be 3 degrees above the 4th magnitude star Theta Virginis in the constellation of Virgo.

There are further launches also planned from Satish Dhawan, India; French Guiana; Xi Chang, China.

* = Dates and times are subject to change.

Fact: The Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Saanich, British Columbia, Canada was completed in 1918. The glass mirror, 73 inches in diameter and 12 inches thick, weighed approximately 4,340lbs and was made by the Saint-Gobain company in Antwerp, Belgium and shipped just a week before the start of World War 1. It was then ground in the United States at the John A Brashear company in Pittsburgh. The mirror had to be reground twice which added 2 years to the completion time of the telescope. The completed mirror was hauled up Little Saanich Mountain by horse and wagon.

News: The satellite Hayabusa 2 which was launched in December 2014 for the asteroid Ryugu is expected to arrive at its target in July this year. It will survey the asteroid for 1½ years, then in December 2019 it will leave for Earth. Operations at the asteroid will be similar to those of the previous Hayabusa, but with an explosive device to dig the surface for fresh sample material to bring back to Earth in 2020.

NASA News: Andrew J Feustal has a Ph.D in the Geological sciences, specializing in Seismology, and is a veteran of two spaceflights. His first was on the final space shuttle mission to the Hubble Space Telescope that improved the observatories capabilities.

Richard R Arnold worked in the marine sciences and as a teacher in places like Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. He currently serves as the assistant to the Chief for EVA and Robotics in the Astronaut Office

Oleg Artemyev was born in Riga, present-day Latvia in December 1970 and is married to Malikhova Anna Sergeevna and they have a son. He was involved in developing testing procedures for Extra-vehicular Activity (EVA) equipment in neutral buoyancy at the hydrodynamics laboratory, Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre.

The Febuary night sky

I am sorry but due to technical reasons the notes for this months will not appear. Apologies to all and I will make sure the notes for March will be added.

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.