JANUARY, 2020 SKYNOTES

JANUARY STAR CHART, 2020
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 2020

All times are in UT (GMT)

 

January 2020

On January 5th at 07h49, the Earth is at perihelion, its very nearest to the Sun, when the solar distance is 147,091144 km (0.983243564 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 12h00, 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 01h on the 2nd , and a second apogee on the 29th at 21h, and is at its nearest to the Earth (perigee) on the 13tht at 21h.

 

First Quarter on Jan 3rd at 04h03 in the constellation of Cetus.

 

Full Moon this month is on the 10th at 19h22, and this is the first of the highest Full Moon of the year; the other is in December. It lies in the constellation of Gemini in the vicinity of Castor and Pollux.

There is a penumbral (magnitude 0.9) eclipse of the Moon; the greatest phase is at 19h10. The entire eclipse is visible from all of Asia, western Europe, most of Africa, but as with all penumbral eclipses there is only a slight dimming on the surface of the Full Moon, and for most people, no eclipse seems to be taking place. The reason for this is that in a penumbral eclipse, only part of the Sun is covered by the Earth; sunlight is so intense that this terrestrial covering has very little effect on the lunar surface when observed from Earth.

 

Last Quarter is at 12h59 on the 17th, in the constellation of Virgo, just to the north of Spica.

 

New Moon is on Jan 24th at 21h43 in the constellation of Capricornus, the Moon passing just to the south of the Sun.

Look for Earthshine on the night hemisphere of the waxing crescent Moon on the 1st and 2nd of the month and again on the 25th to the month’s end; and on the waning crescent from the 18th to the 24th.

Earthshine is the faint glow on the night hemisphere of the Moon caused by reflected sunlight from the Earth.

 

The Planets

 

For most of January, Mercury is lost in the glare of the Sun, but by the end of the month it may be possible tp glimpse it through binoculars low in the SW sky after sunset in the bright twilight. On the 31st, the planet sets 80 mins after the Sun.

 

Venus shines brilliantly as ‘Hesperus – the Evening Star’ throughout the whole of January, setting 4 hours after the Sun by the month’s end. It outshines every other stellar object in the night sky. At 18h mid-month it is an altitude of 13° in the SW amongst the stars of Aquarius. On the 28th the crescent Moon with earthshine, together with Venus produce a pleasing celestial duo, 20°above the SW horizon at 18h. The two objects are 5° apart and almost parallel with the horizon. There is a close conjunction between Venus and Neptune on the 27th; turn your binoculars towards Venus at around 19h and you may notice the very faint blue-ish white point of light to the upper right of Venus, some 5 mins of arc distant. A small telescope at low power will certainly produce a better view of this conjunction between the brightest and the faintest major planets of the Solar System, from our point of view as seen from Earth. (Five minutes of arc is approx. one sixth of the Moon’s diameter.)

 

 

Throughout January, Mars, rises at around 05h, some three hours before the Sun, and may be found shining as a +1.5 magnitude reddish coloured ‘star’ in the vicinity of Antares. The name Antares, given to the brightest star of Scorpius. means ‘rival of Mars’ and so you will be able to compare the two at around 07h mid-month when the two objects may be seen within 10° of the SSE horizon. Mars is at the higher altitude but Antares is slightly brighter than Mars, but because of extinction (dimming) an effect due to the closeness of an object to the horizon Antares suffers more than Mars as it is closer to the horizon; so the two will look to be of a similar magnitude, and both are decidedly red in colour. The waning crescent Moon with earthshine is approaching the pair at 07h on the 20th and will form a pretty trio as morning twilight begins.

 

Jupiter ‘s superior conjunction with the Sun took place on the 27th December 2019 and is slowly beginning to emerge from the vicinity of the Sun during January. By the end of this month it rises just over an hour before the Sun, and so may be seen low in the SE twilight at around 07h on the 29th, a few degrees above the SE horizon. You should be able to see it easily with binoculars at that time at an altitude of 3°. However, be very careful not to continue to scan for too long as the Sun will be making its appearance in that direction, and under no circumstances should you gaze at the Sun through any optical instrument.

 

Saturn is in conjunction with the Sun at 15h on the 13th, and so will not be seen during January.

 

Uranus is an evening object in Aries, setting at around 02h on the 10th. Go to the Remote Planets page for the planet’s path amongst the stars during 2020. Uranus is on the threshold of naked eye visibility of magnitude +6. Its diameter is 3.8 seconds of arc.

 

Much fainter, at visual magnitude +7.96, Neptune is in the constellation of Aquarius with an angular diameterof 2.4 seconds of arc. To locate Neptune in the night sky, go to the Remote Planets page, as above, for a chart showing the planets’ path during 2020. By the end of the month, Neptune sets at 20h.

 

Pluto, in Sagittarius, is in conjunction with the Sun on January 13th at 13h. Its path amongst the stars is also to be found on the Remote Planets page of these SkyNotes

 

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 overnight on the 3rd/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 favourable, this year, and the best numbers will be recorded in the early hours of the 4th. 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, the site of a now defunct constellation which was called Quadrans Muralis, hence the name of the shower.

 

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.

 

 

SUMMARY

The phenomena of the month : January 2020

 

Times are given in UT for SCARBOROUGH (0° 25' 0" W, 54° 16' 3" N, zone 0 = UT).

 

Date        Hour    Description of the phenomenon

yyyy mm dd  hh:mm  

2020 01 01  08:30   Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei

 

2020 01 02  01:30   Moon at apogee (geocentric dist. = 404580 km)

 

2020 01 02  14:55   Minimum of the variable star beta Lyrae

 

2020 01 02  17:42   Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)

 

2020 01 03  04:45   FIRST QUARTER OF THE MOON

 

2020 01 04  01:52   Meteor shower : Quadrantids (110 meteors/hour at zenith; duration = 16.0 days)

 

2020 01 04  23:26   Close encounter between the Moon and Uranus (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 4.8°)

 

2020 01 05  07:00   The Earth at its perihelion (distance to the Sun = 0.98325 AU)

 

2020 01 05  14:31   Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)

 

2020 01 06  17:17   Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei

 

2020 01 07  15:16   Maximum of the variable star eta Aquilae

 

2020 01 07  19:44   Close encounter between the Moon and Aldebaran (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 2.4°)

 

2020 01 08  11:21   Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)

 

2020 01 09  08:32   Opposition of the asteroid 192 Nausikaa with the Sun (dist. to the Sun = 2.305 AU; magn. = 10.0)

 

2020 01 09  13:53   Maximum of the variable star zeta Gemini

 

2020 01 09  17:12   Beginning of occultation of 13-mu Gem (magn. = 2.87)

 

2020 01 09  17:52   End of occultation of 13-mu Gem (magn. = 2.87)

 

2020 01 10  15:18   SUPERIOR CONJUNCTION of Mercury with the Sun (geoc. dist. center to center = 1.9°)

 

2020 01 10  19:21   FULL MOON (penumbral eclipse of the Moon fully visible in SCARBOROUGH)

 

2020 01 11  01:39   Close encounter between the Moon and Pollux (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 5.8°)

 

2020 01 11  08:10   Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)

 

2020 01 11  20:27   Beginning of occultation of 33-eta Cnc (magn. = 5.33)

 

2020 01 11  20:40   End of occultation of 33-eta Cnc (magn. = 5.33)

 

2020 01 12  00:13   Close encounter between the Moon and M 44 (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 0.5°)

 

2020 01 12  02:05   Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei

 

2020 01 13  13:19   CONJUNCTION between Pluto and the Sun (geoc. dist. centre to centre = 0.7°)

 

2020 01 13  15:17   CONJUNCTION between Saturn and the Sun (geoc. dist. centre to centre = 0.0°)

 

2020 01 13  20:20   Moon at perigee (geocentric dist. = 365958 km)

 

2020 01 14  04:59   Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)

 

2020 01 14  19:30   Maximum of the variable star eta Aquilae

 

2020 01 15  08:18   Opposition of the asteroid 511 Davida with the Sun (dist. to the Sun = 2.622 AU; magn. = 9.6)

 

2020 01 15  13:30   Minimum of the variable star beta Lyrae

 

2020 01 17  01:48   Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)

 

2020 01 17  10:53   Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei

 

2020 01 17  12:58   LAST QUARTER OF THE MOON

 

2020 01 18  05:59   Close encounter between Mars and Antares (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 4.7°)

 

2020 01 19  17:29   Maximum of the variable star zeta Gemini

 

2020 01 19  22:38   Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)

 

2020 01 21  09:04   Opposition of the asteroid 5 Astraea with the Sun (dist. to the Sun = 2.101 AU; magn. = 8.9)

 

2020 01 21  23:45   Maximum of the variable star eta Aquilae

 

2020 01 22  06:44   Close encounter between the Moon and M 8 (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 0.7°)

 

2020 01 22  19:27   Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)

 

2020 01 22  19:41   Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei

 

2020 01 23  00:04   Maximum of the variable star khi Cygni

 

2020 01 23  06:27   Opposition of the asteroid 230 Athamantis with the Sun (dist. to the Sun = 2.407 AU; magn. = 10.4)

 

2020 01 24  21:42   NEW MOON

 

2020 01 25  16:16   Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)

 

2020 01 27  20:07   Close encounter between Venus and Neptune (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 0.1°)

 

2020 01 28  04:29   Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei

 

2020 01 28  12:04   Minimum of the variable star beta Lyrae

 

2020 01 28  13:06   Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)

 

2020 01 29  03:59   Maximum of the variable star eta Aquilae

 

2020 01 29  21:05   Maximum of the variable star zeta Gemini

 

2020 01 29  21:28   Moon at apogee (geocentric dist. = 405393 km)

2020 01 31  09:55   Minimum of the variable star Algol(beta Persei) 

 

 

LUNAR OCCULTATIONS in JANUARY, 2020 visible from the Scarborough (UK) area. The time given is UT