All times are UT (GMT)
On January 3rd at 05h20, the Earth is at perihelion, its very nearest to the Sun, when the solar distance is 147,099766 km (0.9833012 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
06h00, it crosses the astronomical border into Capricornus, where it remains for the rest of the month.
During January, the Moon is at its furthest from the Earth (apogee) at 04h on the 9th, and is at its nearest to the Earth (perigee) on the 21st at 20h.
New Moon is on Jan 6th at 01h29 in Sagittarius. From our latitude the Sun is below the horizon, and so we do not get to see the partial solar eclipse which is taking place at that time. The event
is visible from much of eastern Asia including Japan and the North Pacific Ocean.
First Quarter on Jan 14th at 06h46 in the constellation
Full Moon this month is on the 21st at 05h17, and this is the first of the highest Full Moon of 2019; the other is in December.
It lies on the border between Gemini and Cancer. There is a total eclipse of the Moon, visible in its entirety from all of the Americas, Greenland, Iceland, the UK and Scandinavia. The Moon sets, still eclipsed, for much of Europe, Africa and western Asia.
The umbral phase of the eclipse begins at 03h34; totality begins at 04h41; mid-eclipse is at the time of Full Moon, (05h17); totality ends at 05h43; and the Moon leaves the umbra of the Earth’s shadow at 06h51
Last Quarter is at 21h11 on the 27th, on the Libra/Virgo border.
Look for Earthshine on the night hemisphere of the waxing crescent Moon from the 7th to the 13th, and on the waning crescent during the first five days of the month and again on the 29th to the 31st.
Earthshine is the faint glow on the night hemisphere of the Moon caused by reflected sunlight from the Earth.
Mercury is a morning object rising an hour before the Sun on the first two days of the month, and may possibly be glimpsed then, low on
the SE horizon just before the Sun rises at 08h. It is very difficult to see in the bright twilight of dawn. As the month progresses, Mercury moves to its superior conjunction, which takes place on the 30th; after this the planet returns to the
evening skies of February for a better apparition.
At the start of the year, Venus, ‘The Morning Star’, rises 4 hours
before the Sun and so dominates the early morning sky, reaching its greatest western elongation (47°) west of the Sun on the morning of the 6th. Thus this, the brightest of all the planets cannot be missed in the SE sky around 05h before twilight
begins. Through a small telescope, Venus has the appearance of a brilliant white broad crescent. On New Year’s Day, early in the morning, the waning crescent Moon can be seen approaching Venus in the constellation of Libra, giving a spectacular effect
in the SE sky. The next day, around the same time, (05h), the waning crescent Moon, now thinner, lies to the lower left of Venus, the two being separated by 4° of arc. The pair would form a good subject for photography as they rise higher together when
twilight begins. During January when the Moon is absent, we have a good opportunity to observe the shadow cast by Venus. The technique is to hold to hold your finger up towards Venus, with a sheet of paper behind it, making sure there is no artificial light
pollution around. The shadow of your finger is quite distinct. Venus, after the Sun and Moon, is the brightest celestial object in the entire sky. The crescent Moon may be seen approaching Venus again at the end of January.
Mars, although growing dimmer, is climbing in altitude as it moves eastwards through the constellation of Pisces during this month. It is visible for just over seven hours in the evening
sky after sunset, and throughout the month is visible in the SW evening sky, setting just before midnight. It is unmistakeable due to its fiery light, lying just below the ‘Great Square of Pegasus’. Its visible magnitude at the start of the month
is +0.49, which is just about as bright as Procyon, the ‘little dog star’ in Canis Minor (alpha Canis Minoris). During the late evening on the 12th, the broad waxing crescent Moon and Mars may be seen together in the western sky, Mars
lying 5° to the upper right of the Moon.
Jupiter rises two hours before the Sun at the
beginning of the year, increasing to just over three hours before the Sun at the end of January. As dawn is beginning on New Year’s Day, there is a lovely spectacle in the SE sky at 07h. We should see the waning crescent Moon with Earthshine, with Venus
to the lower left of the Moon, and Jupiter 15° to the lower left of Venus, just 5° above the SE horizon. On the 2nd, at the same time, the Moon lies between the two planets, and on the 3rd the thin crescent Moon is in conjunction
with Jupiter, when the pair are separated by 1.5° (three moon widths). The season for observing the four Galilean moons has begun, and if you are an early riser, take the opportunity to observe the ‘dance of the satellites’ as they change position
on a daily basis; look through firmly fixed, well-focussed binoculars.
On the 2nd, Saturn, in Sagittarius, is at superior conjunction
with the Sun, and so cannot be seen. However, the planet rises 90 mins before the Sun at the end of January, and it may be possible to glimpse Saturn in binoculars at the month’s end. Look very low in the sky (2°) above the SE horizon using binoculars
at this time. But beware of the imminence of Sunrise!
Uranus is an evening object on the Pisces/Aries border just to the north of omicron Piscium (Torcularis Septentri ) m(v) +4.26. Use the Menu to go to the Remote Planets page to see the path of Uranus through
2019. Although theoretically visible to the naked eye, this planet is very faint and is at the limit of naked eye visibility. Its visual magnitude +5.82, and should be sought using binoculars or a small telescope.
Much fainter at visual magnitude +7.96, Neptune is in the constellation of Aquarius, some 2.5° to the lower right of phi Aquarii, of visual magnitude +4.22. To locate Neptune in the night sky, go to the
Remote Planets page, as above for a chart showing the planets’ path.
Pluto, in Sagittarius, is in conjunction with the Sun on January 11th.
Research has shown that the parent body of the Quadrantid
Meteor Shower was an ‘asteroid’ 2003 EH1, which broke up some 500 years ago. The Quadrantid meteor shower peaks at 03h on the 4th, with the normal limits of the shower running from the 28th of December to the 12thof
January. A Zenithal Hourly Rate of up to 80 or more shooting stars an hour may be seen from the night hemisphere of the earth. Conditions are very favourable and the best numbers will be recorded around the time of maximum. 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 2019
Times are given in UT for SCARBOROUGH (0° 25' 0" W, 54° 16' 3" N, zone 0 UT).
Description of the phenomenon
yyyy mm dd hh:mm
2019 01 01 10:45 Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei
2019 01 02 05:50 CONJUNCTION
between Saturn and the Sun (geoc. dist. centre to centre = 0.5°)
2019 01 03 05:00 The Earth at its perihelion (distance to the Sun = 0.98330 AU)
2019 01 03 14:09 Minimum
of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2019 01 03 20:02 Meteor shower : Quadrantids (110 meteors/hour at zenith; duration = 16.0 days)
2019 01 05 06:49 Minimum of the variable
star beta Lyrae
2019 01 05 23:09 Close encounter between Mercury and M 8 (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 0.4°)
2019 01 06 01:28 NEW MOON (partial eclipse of the
Sun not visible in SCARBOROUGH)
2019 01 06 06:00 GREATEST WESTERN ELONGATION of Venus (46.9°)
2019 01 06 10:59 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2019 01 06 15:03 Maximum of the variable star eta Aquilae
2019 01 06 19:32 Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei
2019 01 09 04:28 Maximum
of the variable star zeta Gemini
2019 01 09 04:29 Moon at apogee (geocentric dist. = 406117 km)
2019 01 09 07:48 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2019 01 11 11:37 CONJUNCTION between Pluto and the Sun (geoc. dist. centre to centre = 0.1°)
2019 01 12 04:20 Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei
2019 01 12 04:37 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2019 01 12 08:00 Mercury at its aphelion (distance to the Sun = 0.46671 AU)
2019 01 13 19:18 Maximum
of the variable star eta Aquilae
2019 01 14 06:46 FIRST QUARTER OF THE MOON
2019 01 14 17:35 Close encounter between the Moon and Uranus (topocentric dist. centre to centre
2019 01 14 22:01 Opposition of the asteroid 704 Interamnia with the Sun (dist. to the Sun = 3.063 AU; magn. = 10.2)
2019 01 15 01:26 Minimum of the variable star
Algol (beta Persei)
2019 01 17 13:08 Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei
2019 01 17 17:33 Close encounter between the Moon and Aldebaran (topocentric dist. centre to
centre = 0.9°)
2019 01 17 22:15 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2019 01 18 05:24 Minimum of the variable star beta Lyrae
2019 01 19 02:27 Beginning of occultation of 54-chi1 Ori (magn. = 4.39)
2019 01 19 03:25 End of occultation of 54-chi1 Ori (magn. = 4.39)
2019 01 19 06:08 Beginning
of occultation of 62-chi2 Ori (magn. = 4.64)
2019 01 19 08:03 Maximum of the variable star zeta Gemini
2019 01 20 04:55 Beginning of occultation of 43-zeta Gem, Mekbuda,
(magn. = 4.01)
2019 01 20 05:34 End of occultation of 43-zeta Gem, Mekbuda, (magn. = 4.01)
2019 01 20 19:05 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2019 01 20 23:32 Maximum of the variable star eta Aquilae
2019 01 21 01:51 Opposition of the asteroid 324 Bamberga with the Sun (dist. to the Sun = 2.646 AU; magn. = 10.4)
2019 01 21 05:16 FULL MOON (total eclipse of the Moon fully visible in SCARBOROUGH)
2019 01 21 16:55 End of occultation of 47-delta Cnc, Asellus Australis, (magn. = 3.94)
2019 01 21 19:58 Moon at perigee (geocentric dist. = 357342 km)
2019 01 22 15:04 Close encounter between Venus and Jupiter (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 2.4°)
2019 01 22 21:56 Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei
2019 01 23 03:34 Close encounter between the Moon and Regulus (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 1.7°)
2019 01 23 15:54 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2019 01 26 12:43 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2019 01 27 21:10 LAST QUARTER OF
2019 01 28 03:47 Maximum of the variable star eta Aquilae
2019 01 28 06:43 Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei
01 29 09:32 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2019 01 29 11:39 Maximum of the variable star zeta Gemini
2019 01 30 02:50 SUPERIOR CONJUNCTION of Mercury with
the Sun (geoc. dist. centre to centre = 2.1°)
2019 01 30 04:47 Beginning of occultation of 7-chi Oph (magn. = 4.22)
2019 01 30 05:59 End of occultation of 7-chi Oph (magn.
2019 01 30 23:30 Opposition of the asteroid 89 Julia with the Sun (dist. to the Sun = 2.822 AU; magn. = 10.2)
2019 01 31 03:58 Minimum of the variable star beta Lyrae
2019 01 31 06:44 Beginning of occultation of 40-xi Oph (magn. = 4.39)
2019 01 31 06:51 End of occultation of 40-xi Oph (magn. = 4.39)