North Wales Astronomy January Night sky notes

The Moon Phases

First quarter 9th              Full 17th             last quarter 25th

The Planets

Mars is a morning object in Sagittarius rising two hours before the Sun sadly it will be low down on the southeast horizon.

Bright planet Venus is at its crescent phase this month it will be found in the west evening sky during the first week but reaches inferior conjunction (lies between the Earth and the Sun) on the 9th after which it will become a morning object in Sagittarius. Venit phase us will increase in brightness towards the last week of the month as it will grow from a 1% phase to 14% lit phase and will rise 2hrs 15 mins before the Sun.

Mercury will be close to Venus during the first week and sets 1hr 20 mins after the Sun. On the 7th Mercury will reach greatest eastern elongation (Mercury and Venus, occurs when the line from the Earth to the inferior planet is at a tangent to the Sun) setting 1hr 40 mins after the Sun.

Gas giant Jupiter is an early evening object in the southwest in Aquarius around 5pm but will be low down towards the end of the month it will be lost to the twilight.

Ringed planet Saturn will also be an early evening object in Capricornus in the southeast around 5pm but very low down. On the 4th the 5% lit waxing crescent moon and Mercury look for them 1hr 20 mins after sunset.


Peruses will be high in the southwest at 6pm just left of Andromeda look for M34 the open cluster 1,450 light years away first observed on 25th August 1764 by Charles Messier (1730-1817). Cassiopeia also in the south 6pm just above Andromeda here we have M103 an open cluster 8,130 light years away discovered by Charles Messier, but no date listed but viewed by Pierre Mechain in 1781.

Andromeda high in the south 6pm looks for M31 the Andromeda spiral galaxy the next to our own galaxy some 2.3 million light years away. First observed on 3rd August 1764 by Charles Messier. Taurus the bull is high in the southeast at 6pm, South 9pm and SW at 11pm try looking for the Pleiades open cluster also known as the seven sisters first observed on 4th March 1769 by Charles Messier 407light years away most people can see seven stars but when viewed in a pair of binoculars or a small telescope many more stars can be seen.

Orion the hunter will be in the East at 6pm, southeast at 8pm ant South at 10pm look for the Orion emission nebula just under the belt on the left follow the shape of his sword and you will find it. First observed on 4th March 1769 by Charles Messier 1,500 light years away. Gemini the twins also in the southeast at 10pm just left of Orion but a little higher to then left of Gemini is Cancer here we have Saturn and the Beehive open cluster first observed on 4th March 1769 by Charles Messier 515 light years away.

Quadrantids meteor shower from 28th December to 7th January with the peak activity occurring around 3rd/4th Jan. This is an early morning meteor shower look in the East from 3am. The parent body of the shower is comet Machholz the radiant of the shower is the constellation Bootes near Hercules and Draco and the average hourly rate at the maximum is 100.

Deep sky objects

M35, M41, NGC2371/2 and NGC2158

Events during the month

Saturday 1st this morning the 2 per cent lit waning crescent moon will be 8 degrees southeast of the planet Mars both will rise 1hr 40 mins before the Sun.

Sunday 2nd The moon reaches its closest point today known as the perigee moon but sadly we will not see this as the moon is at its new moon phase.

Monday 3rd this evening and and early tomorrow morning see the peak of the Quadrantid meteor shower this can vary between 60-200 per hour.

Tuesday 4th look to the southwest after sunset the planet Mercury the waxing crescent moon and Saturn will form a triangle after sunset. Also, the moon will be at perihelion its closest point to the Sun.

Wednesday 5th the12 per cent waxing crescent moon and Jupiter will be 7 degrees apart in the southwest.

Thursday tonight the 20 per cent waxing crescent moon will be 9 degrees apart from Jupiter in the southwest.

Friday 7th Mercury reaches greatest elongation separated from the Sun by 19.2 degrees Mercury will set 1hr 40 mins after the Sun.

Saturday 8th the constellation Orion reaches its highest point dur south at 22,40.

Monday 10th comet C/2019 L3 Atlas reaches perihelion today and will be at its brightness in Gemini. With a pair of 10x50mm binoculars you should be able to spot the comet in a dark site.

Friday 14th look to the west after sunset and see if you can spot Mercury and Saturn the pair will be 3.6 degrees apart and above the horizon for 1hr 30 mins after sunset.

Saturday 22nd if you have a telescope look at the southwest limb this morning you should be able to spot the dark lave patches of Mare Orientale.


Friday 28th if you have a telescope look two thirds up near the terminator to see the bright crater Aristarchus which is 40km.


Saturday 29th look to the southeast horizon 1he 20 mins before sunrise and see if you can spot Mars and the 12% lit waning crescent moon, they will be 4.5 degrees apart.