JANUARY STAR CHART, 2018
Please click on the Chart to enlarge.

The chart shows the whole sky, at the times given at the top left of the chart.
The edge of the chart is the HORIZON, and the ZENITH is at the centre.

This chart is for LATITUDE 54 degrees NORTH, and is produced using 'PLANETARIUM GOLD' software.

JANUARY, 2018

JANUARY 2018

 

Astronomical data 2018 © John Harper

 

All times are in UT (GMT)

 

January
On January 3rd at 06h, the Earth is at perihelion, its very nearest to the Sun, when the solar distance is 147,100998 km (0.983309436 a.u.) from the earth’s centre. (1 a.u. is the mean Sun-Earth distance.)

 

At the start of January, the Sun lies in the constellation of Sagittarius until, on the 20th at around 00h00, it crosses the astronomical border into Capricornus, where it remains for the rest of the month.

 

The Moon
During January, the moon is at its furthest from the Earth (apogee) at 02h on the 15th , and is at its nearest to the earth (perigee) on the 1st at 21h and again on the 30th at 09h

 

First Quarter on Jan 24th at 22h21 in the constellation of Cetus, just east of the Pisces border

 

There are two Full Moons this month; the first is on the 2nd at 02h,and this is the highest Full Moon of the year in the constellation of Gemini, to the upper left of Orion the Hunter.

 

The second, or ‘blue’ Full Moon, is on Jan 31st at 13h27, at which time, a total eclipse takes place for observers in North America, the Pacific, New Zealand, Australia and Asia. Unfortunately no eclipse is visible in the UK. The Moon, at the time, is passing from Gemini into Cancer.

 


Last Quarter is at 22h26 on the 8th, in the constellation of Virgo.

 

New Moon is on Jan 17th at 02h18 in Sagittarius, when from our latitude the moon lies 1° north of the Sun.

 

In days gone by January’s Full Moon was known as the Wolf Moon; because January was called Wolfmonath, since packs of hungry wolves descended into the villages foraging for food.

 

Look for earthshine on the night hemisphere of the waxing crescent Moon from the 18th to the 23rd, and on the waning crescent from the 9th to the 26th.
Earthshine is the faint glow on the night hemisphere of the Moon caused by reflected sunlight from the Earth.

 

Planets

 

At the start of 2018, Mercury may be seen in the morning sky before sunrise for the first two weeks of January. Greatest western elongation, 23° from the Sun, is on the 1st . On the 1st it rises just less than two hours before the Sun. If the sky is clear, then this is the time to scan for Mercury using binoculars, low above the SE horizon,an hour before sunrise.

 

Venus is at superior conjunction on January 9th, and is too close to the Sun to be observed during all this month.

 

Throughout January, Mars slowly increases in brightness as it moves eastwards through the constellation of Libra. The planet’s magnitude mid-month is +1.3, which is the same magnitude as the star Deneb in Cygnus the Swan. On the 7th, Mars is in conjunction with Jupiter, and during the hours before dawn, the pair may be seen 0.25° apart (half a Moon width) with Mars lying to the south of Jupiter. The two planets are 20° above the southern horizon just before the Sun rises on this day. On the morning of the 11th, the broad waxing crescent Moon may be seen 4° (eight Moon widths) above the two planets; a pleasing trio of celestial objects. Notice how Mars, although the faintest of the three, is easily distinguished because of its reddish glow.

 

Jupiter, the brightest of the objects in the morning sky, rises at 04h on January 1st, and just past 02h at the month’s end. The planet spends most of its time this year in the constellation of Libra, and from Scarborough reaches a maximum altitude of 20° when in the south. As the month progresses Mars approaches and passes Jupiter on the 7th as indicated in the entry for Mars.
If you are an early riser, take the opportunity to observe the dance of the Galilean satellites changing position on a nightly basis, through firmly fixed, well-focussed binoculars

 

Saturn, in the constellation of Sagittarius, rises two hours before the Sun at the end of the month; its visual magnitude is 0.5, the same magnitude as Betelgeuse in Orion. The ringed planet should be looked for with binoculars low in the SE sky one hour before sunrise during the second half of the month. There is the opportunity for a challenging observation on the 13th, when Mercury and Saturn are separated by less than a degree, with Saturn one Moon width above the brighter Mercury. You will need a zero horizon and no haze. With binoculars scan just a couple of degrees above the SE horizon at 07h30 on that day. The thin waning crescent Moon may be seen approaching the two the very next day (14th).

 

Uranus is an evening object in Pisces at the limit of naked eye visibility at visual magnitude +5.8. It lies some 3.5° to the west of the 4.26 magnitude star Torcularis Septentri (omicron Piscium). By the end of the month Uranus sets at midnight.

 

Much fainter Neptune lies in the constellation of Aquarius and sets on the first of January at around 19h, but just before 20h at the end of the month. This remote world lies one Moon width (0.5°) to the lower right of the 3.74 magnitude star lambda Aquarii (73 Aquarii).

Pluto, in Sagittarius, is in conjunction with the Sun on January 9th.

 

Research has shown that the parent body of the Quadrantids was an ‘asteroid’ 2003 EH1, which broke up some 500 years ago. The Quadrantid meteor shower peaks at 21h on the 3rd, with the normal limits of the shower running from the 1st to the 6th. A Zenithal Hourly Rate of up to 80 shooting stars an hour may be seen from the night hemisphere of the earth. Unfortunately the conditions for seeing the Quadrantids this year are not favourable, because the moon is full on the 2nd. The radiant (point of origin) of these meteors lies in the northern parts of the constellation Boötes just to the left of the “Handle” of the Plough.

 

Constellations visible in the South, around midnight, mid-month are as follows: Gemini, Cancer, Canis Minor and the ‘head’ of Hydra.
All times are GMT 1° is one finger width at arm’s length.

 

 

JANUARY EVENTS SUMMARY (Using Coelix Software).

The phenomena of the month : JANUARY 2018
Times are given in standard time for SCARBOROUGH (0° 25' 5" W, 54° 16' 30" N, zone Z).

 

 

Date Hour Description of the phenomenon
yyyy mm dd hh:mm

 

2018 01 01 12:59 Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei
2018 01 01 13:47 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2018 01 01 21:54 Moon at perigee (geocentric dist. = 356565 km)
2018 01 02 00:00 GREATEST WESTERN ELONGATION of Mercury (22.6°)
2018 01 02 02:24 FULL MOON
2018 01 02 09:35 Opposition of the asteroid 8 Flora with the Sun (dist. to the Sun = 2.016 AU; magn. = 8.2)
2018 01 03 06:00 The Earth at its perihelion (distance to the Sun = 0.98328 AU)
2018 01 03 14:10 Meteor shower : Quadrantids (120 meteors/hour at zenith; duration = 16.0 days)
2018 01 03 18:49 Close encounter between the Moon and M 44 (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 3.0°)
2018 01 04 10:36 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2018 01 04 20:12 Beginning of occultation of 16-psi Leo (magn. = 5.36)
2018 01 04 20:47 End of occultation of 16-psi Leo (magn. = 5.36)
2018 01 05 06:05 Simultaneous transits on Jupiter : two satellites.
2018 01 05 08:20 Beginning of occultation of 32-alpha Leo, Régulus, (magn. = 1.36)
2018 01 05 09:15 End of occultation of 32-alpha Leo, Régulus, (magn. = 1.36)
2018 01 05 14:51 Maximum of the variable star eta Aquilae
2018 01 06 21:47 Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei
2018 01 07 00:26 Close encounter between Mars and Jupiter (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 0.2°)
2018 01 07 07:25 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2018 01 07 22:44 Minimum of the variable star beta Lyrae
2018 01 08 19:02 Maximum of the variable star zeta Gemini
2018 01 08 22:25 LAST QUARTER OF THE MOON
2018 01 09 06:59 SUPERIOR CONJUNCTION of Venus with the Sun (geoc. dist. centre to centre = 0.8°)
2018 01 09 09:31 CONJUNCTION between Pluto and the Sun (geoc. dist. centre to centre = 0.4°)
2018 01 10 04:15 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2018 01 12 04:33 Close encounter between Mercury and M 8 (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 1.3°)
2018 01 12 05:48 Simultaneous transits on Jupiter : shadows of two satellites.
2018 01 12 06:35 Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei
2018 01 12 07:20 Simultaneous transits on Jupiter : one satellite and shadows of two satellites.
2018 01 12 19:05 Maximum of the variable star eta Aquilae
2018 01 12 23:57 Maximum of the variable star Mira (omicron Ceti)
2018 01 13 01:04 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2018 01 13 05:46 Close encounter between Mercury and Saturn (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 0.6°)
2018 01 15 02:09 Moon at apogee (geocentric dist. = 406464 km)
2018 01 15 21:53 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2018 01 17 02:17 NEW MOON
2018 01 17 10:06 Close encounter between Mercury and M 22 (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 0.4°)
2018 01 17 15:23 Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei
2018 01 18 18:42 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2018 01 18 22:37 Maximum of the variable star zeta Gemini
2018 01 19 23:20 Maximum of the variable star eta Aquilae
2018 01 20 21:18 Minimum of the variable star beta Lyrae
2018 01 21 15:32 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2018 01 23 00:10 Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei
2018 01 23 14:00 Venus at its aphelion (distance to the Sun = 0.72825 AU)
2018 01 24 12:21 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2018 01 24 19:15 Close encounter between Mercury and Pluto (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 1.5°)
2018 01 24 22:20 FIRST QUARTER OF THE MOON
2018 01 25 11:00 Mercury at its aphelion (distance to the Sun = 0.46670 AU)
2018 01 26 15:58 Opposition of the asteroid 11 Parthenope with the Sun (dist. to the Sun = 2.687 AU; magn. = 9.9)
2018 01 27 03:34 Maximum of the variable star eta Aquilae
2018 01 27 09:10 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2018 01 28 08:58 Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei
2018 01 29 01:20 Beginning of occultation of 71 Ori (magn. = 5.20)
2018 01 29 02:13 Maximum of the variable star zeta Gemini
2018 01 29 02:18 End of occultation of 71 Ori (magn. = 5.20)
2018 01 30 05:59 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2018 01 30 09:54 Moon at perigee (geocentric dist. = 358994 km)
2018 01 31 13:27 FULL MOON (total eclipse of the Moon not visible in SCARBOROUGH)
2018 01 31 18:12 Opposition of the asteroid 1 Ceres with the Sun (dist. to the Sun = 2.569 AU; magn. = 6.9)

 

 

LUNAR OCCULTATIONS in JANUARY 2018 visible from the Scarborough area. The time given is UT