All information presented here is taken from my 74 page book
Nightscenes 2018 which is available to order from our web shop and all good book stores!
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.
Uranus, Neptune and the dwarf planet Ceres are in the evening sky with Ceres at opposition on the 31st. Jupiter and Mars are in conjunction on the 7th whilst Mercury and Saturn are in conjunction on the 13th. Venus is in conjunction with the Sun on the 9th and not viewable. Vesta lies not far from Mars and Jupiter in the morning sky. The Quadrantids meteor shower will be poor as it peaks a day after Full Moon on the 3rd. There are two Full Moons this month with the first close to Lunar Perigee (‘Supermoon’) and the second called a ‘Blue Moon’.
We kick off the year with Mercury in the morning sky for the first two weeks along with Jupiter and Mars (above).
The chart below begins back on December 19th 2017 showing Mercury climbing up into the morning twilight. Look at around 7am towards the SE horizon. Don’t be confused with Jupiter and Mars a little further up to its upper right as shown in the top chart set for January 1st at 7am. Mercury is at greatest elongation from the Sun on the 1st and then begins to drop back into the solar glare. In doing so it meets Saturn as it emerges out of the bright morning twilight and they are in conjunction on the 13th. Two mornings later the slim crescent Moon joins them for a lovely sight. Meanwhile, Saturn will continue to pull away from the twilight but lies low in the morning sky amongst the upper stars of Sagittarius at the end of January.
Slightly higher up we find the brightest planet of the morning sky, Jupiter, with Mars to its right at the start of January. In fact adding to the view on the 1st, they lie either side of a nice double star, Alpha Libra or Zuben-
We are not quite finished with this part of the morning sky however, for we find minor planet Vesta shines at mag 7.8 so quite similar in brightness to Neptune. Vesta passes north of Lambda Libra on the 5th then on the 12th the crescent Moon lies between Vesta and Theta Libra shown here at left.
The evening sky only has two planets to look out for, Neptune and Uranus. Uranus lies in Pisces and is brighter than Neptune as it shines at mag 5.8, technically a naked eye object from a dark sky site. The almost First Quarter Moon lies seven degrees below it on the 23rd. Earlier, on January 20th, the evening Crescent Moon lies below Lambda Aquarii and Neptune helping you to find the faint planet in a 10x50 binocular. Neptune is just under mag 8 and lies close to an 8th mag star so don’t get them confused. The planet also lies almost on a line with another 8th mag star and 78 Aqr which is mag 6.2 and much easier to spot. Lambda Aqr is brighter at mag 3.7 and is a naked eye star so you can’t confuse it with Neptune!
Dwarf planet Ceres is at opposition on the 31st and so becomes viewable all night. It lies in Cancer and on that night the Moon lies 14° south of it but at mag 6.8 Ceres should be visible in a 10x50 binocular. Use the asteroids link at the top of the page for a finder chart.
We have two Full Moon’s this month as they occur at the start and end of January. The first one occurs on January 2nd when the Moon is also close to Perigee, closest point to Earth in its orbit. So technically it will be a bit bigger than normal, somewhat difficult to really notice the difference, but no doubt everyone will be calling it a ‘Supermoon’. It is Full again on January 31st giving us a ‘Blue Moon’ although it won’t actually look blue but merely suggests it is a rare thing. However, this year it occurs again in March so perhaps not as rare as is often made out in the popular press!
Also look out for the following:
Jan 5th Moon lies close to Regulus in Leo in the morning sky.
Jan 8th Last Quarter Moon lies in Leo close to Porrima Virginis.
Jan 9th The Moon lies above Spica in Virgo.
Jan 13th Crescent Moon lies in Ophiuchus to the upper left of Antares in Scorpius.
Jan 26th The Moon forms triangle with M45 and Hyades/Aldebaran this evening.
Jan 27th The Moon lies close to and left of Aldebaran tonight.
Clear skies and happy sky watching.
The UK & Ireland Night Sky for 2018
Earth is at Perihelion (closest to the Sun) on January 3rd when it will be 91.4 Million miles or 147.1 MKm from the Sun.
It is Winter in the Northern Hemisphere and Summer in the Southern Hemisphere.
Webmaster © Paul L Money 2017
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