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.
Jupiter and Venus lie low in the evening twilight and are in conjunction on the 24th. Saturn lies to their left too so we are only just holding on to our giant planets. Neptune and Uranus are still well placed in dark skies for viewing in the evenings. Now, minor planet Vesta reaches opposition on the 12th and is easily visible in a binocular, viewable all night. Mercury transits the Sun on the 11th then moves into the morning twilight for its best morning apparition of the year. Mars can now be seen in the morning sky as it moves clear of the twilight. The moon occults two stars, Eta Gem & Mu Gem on the night of the 15th/16th. Moonlight will spoil the Leonids meteor shower peak on the 18th.
Jupiter during 2019
Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system rlies in the evening SW sky and shines at mag -
Its main features as seen in a telescope are shown at right and considerable detail can be viewed with care and patience. The Great Red Spot often looks paler than images suggest and you should remember that at some times the other side of the planet may be turned towards us so the GRS may not be visible. At the time of writing this web page, the GRS is undergoing a dramatic shrinking and substantial change so do keep an eye on it!
Using a binocular or small telescope look out for the four Galilean moons (above) as they wheel about the planet in their orbits, as a bonus. Now that Jupiter is at opposition it will become an easier target in the evening sky for those who don’t like early mornings!
The image at left is a composite taken of Jupiter and Saturn on June 28th/29th 2019 and shows their sizes to scale using an 8 inch SCT telescope. Saturn is roughly twice as far away as Jupiter from us and so looks half the size but makes up for it with its ring system.
Saturn during 2019
With Saturn at opposition back in July it remains a good time to look at it with a small telescope. The main features are shown here at right with a dusky belt on the planets disk and two distinct Rings,, ‘A’ and ‘B’ with a gap between them that depends on atmospheric condition as to how well you see it. The ‘C’ ring is much harder and quite diffuse but often the polar hood does stand out as slightly darker than the rest of the planets disk. Something else to look for but not close to opposition is the shadow of the planet on the rings as seen in the authors image at right.
Uranus was the last of the major planets to reach opposition this year and it did on Oct 28th and lies in Aries. It now shines at mag 5.7 and when the Moon is out of the way keen eyed viewers may be able to spot it without optical aid. In a binocular or small telescope it has a greenish hue which the author always finds useful when trying to spot it with a 10x50 binocular. From now until the end of the year Uranus will lie in the evening sky becoming easier as it rises earlier with each passing night. As this part of the sky is quite bland with few bright stars it should be easier to spot Uranus with the naked eye and binoculars. The four brightest stars on the chart above are similar in brightness and a little fainter to the planet and during November lie to the right of it. Uranus path until the end of the year is shown as it passes into this group of four which are shown with their magnitudes.
The two major planets of Jupiter and Saturn are getting lower in the western twilight. They are joined by Venus which slowly improves visibility during the latter half of the month. The view at left shows Saturn and Jupiter descending into the twilight with the view here towards the SW set for approximately ¾ hr after sunset. Jupiter’s brightness is the only thing that keeps it viewable at the end of the month now it lies in the twilight. Jupiter and Venus pass like ships in the night with closest approach on the 24th then four evenings later they are joined by a slim crescent moon on the 28th. The next evening (29th) the moon lies to the lower right of Saturn. The crescent moon is also close to Saturn on the 2nd but not possible to show that on the above chart.
The transit of Mercury on the 11th is something not to be missed as long as you take precautions when viewing the sun. Unlike the rarer transits of Venus, Mercury transits across the face of the Sun occur much more frequently with the last one for the UK/Ireland occurring on 9th May 2016 shown above right. A Transit occurs when the orbital plane of an inner planet such as Mercury or Venus crosses the disk of the Sun close to or at the nodal crossing, so the planet can be seen passing in front as a black disk. Venus has a much larger disk than Mercury partly because it is a much larger planet but also because it is much closer to the Earth during the transit so Mercury will appear as a small dot crossing the solar disk as shown in the authors image. Mercury is the small series of dots whilst a sunspot group can be seen above centre. For the UK/Ireland this years event, Mercury starts to encroach (ingress) on the disk of the Sun at 12:35 UT. It is midway along its path at 15:19 UT and the transit ends when it leaves the solar disk (Egress) at 18:04 UT. However for the UK/Ireland the sun will set before the transit is over and we will see around 2/3 to ¾ of the transit as shown on the chart above left.
Mercury then climbs into the early morning twilight and almost joins up with Mars which is also improving now and pulling out of the twilight glow. The view above is set for an hour before sunrise looking roughly ESE. Mercury is always fainter at the start than at the end and on Nov 20th it shines at mag 0.5 and by December 14th it shines at mag -
Minor planet Vesta now comes to opposition on the 12th and can be seen all night. It is moving retrograde in Taurus and the chart here shows its motion from October 1st until December 1st. Vesta passes below the stars Xi and Omicron Tauri on the 1st to 5th of November. A few days later on the 12th Vesta is at opposition and the Full moon lies above left of it as shown above. Technically Full Moon is the time the moon is at opposition to the Sun so it is no surprise the Full Moon is close to Vesta that night. Vesta shines at mag 6.5 so technically naked eye -
The main meteor shower for November is the Leonids which peaks on the night of the 18th. Although Leo rises late in the evening the moon is also in the morning sky and so will affect how many you get to see, so this year conditions are not favourable. The radiant is in the ‘Sickle’ part of Leo and the ZHR is between 10 and 20 so do have a go at looking out for them on the nights of the 17th/18th as even with moonlight you may spot some of the brighter meteors.
Also look out for the following:
1st Moon lies between Jupiter and Saturn (evening twilight)
2nd Moon lies to the left of Saturn (evening twilight)
6th Moon lies close to Tau Aquarii (evening)
8th Mars in conjunction and north of Spica (morning)
11th Moon lies above Mu Ceti and half way between Uranus and Vesta (evening)
13th Moon lies close to Aldebaran and Hyades (evening)
15th Moon occults Eta Geminorum (late evening)
16th Moon occults Mu Geminorum (morning)
17th Moon lies close to Wasat (Delta Geminorum (early morning)
19th Last Quarter moon rises close to Regulus (late evening)
Clear skies and happy sky watching.
Webmaster © Paul L Money 2019
The UK & Ireland Night Sky for 2019
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