This is Jupiter's satellite (II) EUROPA in relation to Jupiter, at 06h 45 UT, DECEMBER 19.
Gaphic generated using 'Celestia' software




'When, as a child, I laughed and wept,

Time crept.

When, as a youth, I dreamt and talked,

Time walked.

When I became a full grown man,

Time ran.

When, older still, I daily grew,

Time flew.

Soon I shall find, on travelling on,

Time gone !'


Some lines from a clock in Chester Cathedral, U.K.


DECEMBER - SOLANUM -Winter Cherry. A popular Christmas plant for indoor decoration.



Illustrations of Saturn and its fascinating moon ENCELADUS, thought to be a possible abode of life, as is Jupiter's satellite Europa.

CONFIGURATION OF THE GALILEAN SATELLITES OF JUPITER Conjunction with SUN was on NOVEMBER 26. The planet is now reappearing in the south eastern morning twilight.

SKYNOTES are available. Use The MENU above for NOVEMBER, DECEMBER 2018 and JANUARY 2019 SKYNOTES.

ADDED : ASTRONOMICAL POEMS PAGE: Please use the MENU to find this new page.

ADDED also: A Theological and Astronomical Reflection upon the 'STAR OF BETHLEHEM'. Please use the MENU to find this page.



ASTEROIDAL OCCULTATIONS for NOVEMBER accessible via the Menu above (ASTEROIDAL EVENTS). Thanks or those Andrej !


VENUS has reappeared as the "MORNING STAR" after its Inferior Conjunction with the Sun when the planet lay between Earth and the Sun. Look in the South East at dawn. the phase of the planet is shown below, on this page, and can be detected easily in binoculars during NOVEMBER.

INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION and IRIDIUM FLARE SATELLITES' VISIBILITY For information about suitable times to see the ISS, other satellites, and interesting objects, and to download the application if you wish, go to the following admirable site:


ISS - Visible passes from SCARBOROUGH: The international Space Station has the appearance of a bright star moving across the sky from west to east. it is often around the same brightness as Jupiter, (the fourth brightest celestial object in the sky after the Sun, Moon, and Venus). The TIMES HERE are UT. 

Date Brightness Start Highest point End Pass type
(mag) Time Alt. Az. Time Alt. Az. Time Alt. Az.
24 Dec -1.1 07:30:50 10° SSW 07:33:28 22° SSE 07:36:06 10° E visible
25 Dec -0.8 06:39:19 10° S 06:41:24 16° SE 06:43:29 10° ESE visible

IRIDIUM FLARE SATELLITES: These are Communication Satellites with highly reflective solar panels. When the Sun catches one of these, there is a bright star-like burst, which lasts only a moment, but can be very noticeable and startling! The TIMES given are UT. 

 The presence of Iridium Flare Satellites in our skies is coming to an end soon!


Time Brightness Altitude Azimuth Satellite Distance to flare centre Brightness at flare centre Sun altitude
Dec 18, 17:49:52 -4.5 52° 39° (NE) Iridium 14 9 km (W) -8.3 -18° 
Dec 21, 17:36:32 0.8 58° 42° (NE) Iridium 14 48 km (W) -8.4 -16° 

WELCOME to JONVRAN.CO.UK, John's simple astronomy site where you will find information about what is happening in the night sky from the point of view of SCARBOROUGH in the United Kingdom, Latitude 54 deg. 17 minutes NORTH, Longitude 00 deg. 25 minutes WEST,(Situated on the East Coast, midway between LONDON and EDINBURGH, and Mainland Britain); as well as what I hope are other interesting bits and pieces, of use to everyone. You can contact me using the form in the CONTACT area, should you wish to do so.


Historically these 'Skynotes' are a direct cyber-descendent, of the paper skynotes I prepared, for many years, by hand, for members, at each meeting of the Scarborough Astronomical Society from the moment the Society began in 1976. In those days, I produced all the illustrations including the star charts by hand, but now, with the advent of excellent Astronomy software programs, I am able to use much better graphics, for which I thank the many programmers who have produced these wonderful software gems. In the CREDITS section you will find a list of these amazing sources that allow me to continue to produce my 'Skynotes', for the benefit of all.

It does not seem that they have been produced continuously for 40 years, but as the latin inscription tells us: TEMPVS FVGIT ! (Time Flies!)

There are many 'pages' in this new version of 'SKYNOTES'. They are listed in the MENU at the top of the page. May you find within them something of interest, and may I, here, express my gratitude to the many people who have already visited, this, my small contribution towards the popularisation of Astronomy, which has been my lifelong aim. I would also like to thank the various presenters, past and present, of BBC Radio York, for letting me have regular night sky slots since the Radio Station began, many moons ago. A 'thank you' also to the other local radio stations, who put up with me, particularly when I forget what I was talking about, having gone off at a 'tangent' (= digression). These include: Yorkshire Coast Radio and Radio Scarborough, a good local Internet station, BBC Radio Leeds, Radio 5 Live, and Radio 4. A special thanks to Trish,the producer and Paul Hudson for giving me a seasonal 'slot' on Paul's Weather Show which is broadcast over a number of neighbouring local BBC radio stations. My thanks to you all!

I reserve a special thanks for the late Senior English Master, at Normanton Grammar School, Mr T Hewson, who made me stand up in class during English on Tuesday afternoons, and read aloud several pages of Gulliver's Travels, despite the difficulties I had in reading words. Thanks to him, I can now read properly and he taught me confidence to share my love of Astronomy with all to whom I am invited to speak and teach.

It is my hope that you will enjoy these pages, and return here often to take what you will from this site, as the months change, the result of Earth's journey around the sun. May you too, always follow safe paths, and have clear and unclouded skies

John Harper. F.R.A.S.



"'MOON MAGIC' --- A poem by Pamela Tennant (I learned this, as a junior school child, at the Church of England Primary School in Normanton, West Yorkshire, England.

'One day when father and I had been
To sell our sheep at Berwick Green;
We reached the farmhouse late at night,
A great Moon rising round and bright.
Her strange beams shed on all around,
Bewitched the trees and streams and ground;
Changing the Willows beyond the stacks,
To Little old men with crouching backs.
Today the Sun was shining plain,
Theu all were Pollard willows again;
But at night, do you believe they're trees?
They're little old men with twisted knees!'

My interest in Astronomy began as a child, when I saw the feature called 'The Man in the Moon', for the first time (so I am told!). Several years later my father bought me a book called 'The Starry Heavens' by Ellison Hawks F.R.A.S., followed a Christmas later by another book, 'Introducing Astronomy' by J.B Sidgewick F.R.A.S.. With this book and a torch, I went out at night and looked at the starry skies to identify the constellations, and learned, with delight, the stories of these 'Star Patterns'. Then on Tuesday nights, around 7.30pm , after rushing through my Normanton Grammar School homework, I listened with great excitement to the serial dramatisation of Charles Chilton's novel ' 'Journey Into Space --Operation Luna!', Around the same time, on BBC's Children's Hour, there was the dramatisation of 'The Lost Planet' series of books, written by Angus McVicar, which told of an expedition to Hesikos, the peaceful planet,where the flowers known as 'Charity', bloomed in profusion. these two launched me, well and truly, to the stars! My journey had begun!

After being a member of the Batley and Spenborough Astronomical Society for a number of years, during the time I had my first teaching post at The Cathedral City High School in Wakefield (West Yorkshire), I started the school's astronomical society. Ten years later in 1975, I came to Scarborough, as Head of Religious Studies at Scalby School and founded SCARBOROUGH ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY, because I discovered that there wasn't one; although later, I found that in the past, the Scarborough Philosophical Society had an astronomy 'branch' for a while.

I am a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, a member the British Astronomical Association and the Society for Popular Astronomy. These are the three main national astronomical societies. As a member of the Society for Popular Astronomy, I became the Director of the Occultation Observing Section, and introduced the observing and timing of asteroidal occultations. When I gave up that post, because of optical problems, I was honoured by the S.P.A. who made me a honorary life member. Now, as one of Pamela Tennant's 'little old men with twisted knees' I do my best to observe from my observatory in the 'back yard'. I try to give opportunities for people to look at the night sky when special events take place up there, beyond our atmosphere; and, of course, to produce these 'Skynotes' in the hope that they are of some use to those who like me, a long time ago,.... go out on clear nights to discover, as I did, the wonders of our night skies. In these ways I am able to say 'thank you' to my life long hobby of Astronomy, which, in my opinion, is the noblest of all the sciences!

JANUARY 01, 2019 Looking SOUTH at 00h UT.

JANUARY 01 Looking SOUTH at 07h 30 UT

The MOON's Appearance on DECEMBER 18 at 23h UT.
FULL MOON at 17h 50 UT on DECEMBER 22.

The Moon's celestial position at 23h UT.

MOON --- Key.

Selected LUNAR OCCULTATION - DISAPPEARANCE of m(v) + 4.30 star Xi2 Ceti on DECEMBER 19 at 00h 33 UT

SUN'S CELESTIAL POSITION at 12h UT. = Local time in UK.
The SOLSTICE is on DECEMBER 21 at 22h 23 UT

THE MIDWINTER SOLSTICE SUN in SCARBOROUGH. The SOLSTICE is at 22h 23m UT on DECEMBER 21. Photo courtesy of Sandra Barber @Sherb187
Thanks Sandra!

REMEMBER ------- NEVER LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN unless you have the proper astronomical filters for the purpose, NOT the one often provided by the telescope manufacturer. IT IS SAFER TO PROJECT THE SUN'S IMAGE ONTO A SCREEN. Never look through view finders at the sun. instead look at the shadow of the instrument on a card. When the shadow is as small as it can be, it is pointing towards the sun, and you will see the safe image of the Sun on the card. NEVER LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN------ IT CAN BLIND YOU !

Appearance of the SUN'S PHOTOSPHERE on DECEMBER 18.
(Courtesy of NASA)


The times when ALGOL (Beta Persei), the famous eclipsing variable star reaches its MINIMUM brightness may be found in the monthly SKYNOTES summary for each month. The star has a page dedicated to itself also, accessible via the MENU above

JUPITER'S GALILEAN SATELLITES. Their daily changing configuration in relation to Jupiter. The daily configuration graphic may be seen below.




NORTH BAY, SCARBOROUGH. Looking North West in on a lovely day in mid- DECEMBER. Image courtesy of FeelBetter2day . Thanks Linda!


RISE: 08h 18    SET: 15h 38 

LENGTH OF DAY: 7 h : 20 m : 00 s


RISE: 13h 40    SET: 02h 27



HIGH:  23h 48 (MON 17.) 

LOW:   06h 20 

HIGH:  12h 43

LOW:   18h 52    

The images on either side of these tables are of SCARBOROUGH, taken by residents of the town. They have kindly given me permission to show their work, for which I give them grateful thanks. They all are justifiably proud of their town!

SCARBOROUGH, Dawn on DECEMBER 16, looking SE towards Filey, Image courtesy of Jennifer Taylor. Thanks Jenny.

The Saturnian moon, ENCELADUS Has a warm water ocean under its icy surface, and is a possible abode of Life. Appearance in relation to Saturn on JANUARY 01 at 6h 00 UT.

December 21 at 07h UT Three Planets (Four, if you include EARTH), in SOUTH EASTERN morning twilight on the Shortest Day. MERCURY and JUPITER are in CONJUNCTION, with a separation of 1 degree of arc.

THE FULL MOON of the HOLY MONTH - DECEMBER 22 at 17h 50 UT. When this FULL MOON culminates at the South Meridian . around Midnight, in the Northern Hemisphere; it is the highest Full Moon of the Year!


Saturn in 2018, DECEMBER. The Planet continues to present its Northern Hemisphere towards the SUN, and so, from Earth we see the northern surface of the Ring System. The planet is currently too close to the Sun to be observed from here.

DECEMBER 4, 30 minutes before Sunrise. The waning crescent Moon and Venus, above the rooftops of Falsgrave, SCARBOROUGH UK. image:JH

The URSID METEOR SHOWER is active from DECEMBER 17 -25, with a MAXIMUM on 22/23, overnight The rate at this time is normally around 10 meteors per hour, Unfortunately, this year bright moonlight interferes.

JUPITER and the GALILEAN SATELLITES, DECEMBER 19 at 07h UT, low in the South Eastern twilight, as seen from UK.

In this diagram, NORTH is at the top, EAST is Left and WEST is right, and SOUTH is to the bottom. THE SATELLITES are: i = IO, II = EUROPA. II I= GANYMEDE, !V = CALLISTO

Generated using GUIDE, and STELLARIUM Software

The magical 'Moon Glade' over the wet sand in Scarborough's North Bay, NOVEMBER 19.
Courtesy of LMcGPhotography. A beautiful effect! -- Thanks Liam.

VENUS is visible in the morning sky as "PHOSPHORUS", 'THE MORNING STAR' Look in the South East at around 06h UT, during DECEMBER. See also the article entitled 'THE STAR OF BETHLEHEM'. Use the MENU/MORE above to locate the article. (Click on this image to enlarge, if needs be, to see the data).

COMET 46P WIRTANEN Path for DECEMBER 12 to DECEMBER 24. Tick marks are daily for 00h UT. To locate, be well away from street lights and use a pair of binoculars. The MOON gets in the way around FULL MOON, which is in TAURUS on the 22nd.
Comet Wirtanen's appearance appearance is that of a 'fuzzy bluish blob.) Be warned, it is not spectacular!