All information presented here is taken from my 74 page book NightScenes 2017.
Click on the monthly image to get a larger high resolution view of the night sky set for 53° N (Horncastle, England) but is usable for the UK and Eire. All charts are set for the 1st of the month at 22:00 GMT (10pm) and can be used on the other dates and times shown in each corner of the chart.
Solar System quick summary
For most charts see the buttons at the top for various planets etc.. Charts & images in the text can be clicked to give a larger view.
The early evenings Venus and Mars are easily viewable whilst Neptune, Uranus and Comet 45P/Honda-
On the first days of the month look over towards the SW at around 17:00 GMT and Venus will be a brilliant object with Mars to its upper left. On the 1st, the crescent Moon lies to the lower right of Venus and forms a triangle with it and Comet 45P/H-
Take a look at Mars with either a binocular or small telescope. On the 1st, Neptune lies very close to it and will be just 18 arc minutes away from the red planet! Actually Mars lies the other side of Neptune the night before and in a 26mm 52° eyepiece on an 80mm refractor you can see Mars close to Neptune from Dec 30th through to Jan 2nd as shown here at left. Note that at this magnified view you can even see that Neptune does move a little against the background star field. This will make for a good photo opportunity if the sky is clear!
Meanwhile move on a few days and on the 11th Venus also passes very close to Neptune (right) being closest on the evening of the 12th when Venus will also be at Greatest Eastern Elongation from the Sun.
Venus and Mars keep ahead of the twilight and Venus lies close to Lambda Aquarii on the 14th to add to the fun! It doesn't quite stop there, for the crescent moon joins Mars and Venus again on the 31st as shown below in the next chart. The enlarged moon is enhanced to show 'Earthshine' whilst Venus and Mars are also greatly enlarged to show their scale to each other and in particular the phase of Venus. They all lie just to the left of the circlet asterism of Pisces but the moon should be easy enough to spot in the SW at 6pm!
We have a nice bright(ish) minor planet come to opposition this month when Vesta is at opposition on January 18th. It lies close to the border of Cancer and Gemini (below) and is moving retrograde away from Cancer. It reaches mag 6.2 so easy in a binocular but it still looks just like a star! It is its motion that betrays it so watch as it moves towards Kappa Geminorum when it lies closest to the star on Feb 3rd.
The Moon always dominates events in the sky and does so in Nightscenes and on the 19th it lies directly above both Jupiter and Spica in Virgo when it is almost at Last Quarter phase. The view at left shows the scene at 05:00 GMT, two days later Jupiter lies in conjunction with Spica, i.e. due north of the star. Jupiter shines at mag -
Make sure if you have a telescope that you take a look at the largest planet in our solar system and note its four Galilean moons going round it over the course of a few days.
Meanwhile in its relentless motion around the Earth, the Moon steadily heads down into the morning twilight and as it does so it catches up with two more planets, Saturn and Mercury. Mercury has an average morning apparition this month and is low in the morning twilight from the 5th through to the 26th when the slim crescent Moon joins it. Saturn is creeping up out of the morning twilight moving away from Mercury and the crescent Moon lies above the ringed planet on the 24th (not shown on the chart at left). On the chart, Saturn's brightness is exaggerated to show it in the twilight morning sky. Both planets motion are shown daily.
Mercury creeps up and is at Greatest Western Elongation on the 19th before dropping back deeper into the brightening twilight. Look for both Saturn and Mercury at around ½ to ¾ hour before sunrise for the best chance to catch them. Mercury is brightest at mag -
Also look out for the following:
Jan 2nd Venus lies just 50' north of Iota Aquarii in the evening twilight
Jan 3rd Mars lies to the south of Lambda Aquarii, near Neptune with the Moon to their left -
Jan 7th Reappearance of Mu Ceti from behind the Moon in evening twilight
Jan 8th Moon forms triangle with M45 and Aldebaran tonight
Jan 9th Moon lies close to Aldebaran and the Hyades
Jan 14th Moon rises near to Regulus in Leo
Jan 23rd Crescent Moon lies above Antares
Jan 30th Slim Crescent Moon lies near to Lambda Aquarii and Neptune
Clear skies and happy sky watching.
The UK & Ireland Night Sky for 2017 AD
Earth is at Perihelion (closest to the Sun) ) on January 4th when it will be at a distance from the Sun of 91.4 Million miles or 147.1 MKm. It is Winter in the Northern Hemisphere and Summer in the Southern Hemisphere.
Webmaster © Paul L Money 2017
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