THE SOLAR SYSTEM IN JANUARY 2020

Dates and times shown are NZDT (UT + 13 hours). Rise and Set times are for Wellington. They will vary by a few minutes elsewhere in NZ. Data is adapted from that shown by GUIDE 9.

A penumbral eclipse of the Moon on the morning of January 11 is not observable from NZ. The early stages of the eclipse are visible from Australia. Being penumbral there will be little to see.

THE SUN and PLANETS in January 2020, Rise & Set  Mag. & Cons.
            January 1 NZDT           January 31  NZDT  
      Mag  Cons    Rise    Set     Mag  Cons    Rise    Set
SUN  -26.7  Sgr   5.48am  8.59pm  -26.7  Cap   6.21am  8.45pm
Merc  -1.0  Sgr   5.17am  8.42pm   -1.0  Cap   7.30am  9.29pm
Venus -4.0  Cap   8.36am 11.03pm   -4.1  Aqr   9.47am 10.30pm
Mars   1.6  Lib   3.06am  5.42pm    1.4  Oph   2.18am  5.25pm
Jup   -1.8  Sgr   5.35am  8.43pm   -1.9  Sgr   4.06am  7.09pm
Sat    0.5  Sgr   6.45am  9.39pm    0.6  Sgr   5.01am  7.50pm
Uran   5.7  Ari   3.19pm  2.03am    5.8  Ari   1.22pm 12.05am
Nep    7.9  Aqr  11.23am 12.17am    7.9  Aqr   9.29am 10.21pm
Pluto 14.6  Sgr   6.48am  9.46pm   14.6  Sgr   4.51am  7.48pm

            January 1  NZDT          January 31  NZDT
Twilights    morning     evening        morning     evening
Civil:    start 5.17am, end  9.31pm   start 5.53am, end  9.14pm
Nautical: start 4.34am, end 10.14pm   start 5.15am, end  9.52pm
Astro:    start 3.43am, end 11.04pm   start 4.33am, end 10.34pm

   January PHASES OF THE MOON, times NZDT & UT
  First quarter: Jan  3 at  5.45pm (04:45 UT)
  Full Moon:     Jan 11 at  8.21am (Jan 10, 19:21 UT)
  Last quarter   Jan 18 at  1.59am (Jan 17, 12:59 UT)
  New Moon:      Jan 25 at 10.42am (Jan 24, 21:42 UT)

PLANETS in JANUARY 2020

MERCURY is at superior conjunction on January 11. As an evening object following conjunction it remains unobservable, setting during twilight.

VENUS is an evening object all month. On the 28th Venus passes Neptune with a minimum distance of some 3 arc minutes, at 9 am NZDT before it rises. By the evening, when visible in NZ, Venus will be just over half a degree from Neptune. In addition the crescent moon will then be 3.3° from the planet.

MARS is a morning object rising 4 hours before the Sun on the 31st. During its passage from Libra to Ophiuchus the planet crosses a narrow portion of Scorpius. Mars will be passing Antares during January, the two being closest on the 19th and 20th when a little under 5° apart. A chance to compare the colour of the two, Antares being the brighter object.

The crescent moon is 3° from Mars, the opposite side to Antares, on the morning of the 21st.

JUPITER, having been at conjunction at the end of December, is too close to the Sun to observe early in January. By the end of the month it rises more than two hours before the Sun so should be visible low, in a direction a little to the south of east, by about 5.30 am.

On the afternoon of the 23rd the moon will occult Jupiter. The event is “observable” from NZ, the planet disappears at the sunlit limb of the Moon and reappears at the invisible, unlit, limb.

SATURN is at conjunction with the Sun on the 14th, so is not observable during January.

PLUTO is at conjunction a couple of hours before Saturn.

URANUS is an evening object setting well after midnight but will get low by the end of January.

NEPTUNE is an early evening object. By the end of January it sets just before the end of astronomical twilight.

POSSIBLE BINOCULAR ASTEROIDS in JANUARY

                 January 1 NZDT      January 31 NZDT  
                Mag  Cons  transit    Mag  Cons  transit
(1)  Ceres      9.0   Sgr   2.01pm    9.1   Cap  12.52pm
(4)  Vesta      7.5   Cet   9.26pm    8.0   Ari   7.39pm
(5)  Astraea    9.6   Cnc...3.02am    9.2   Cnc  12.39am

CERES is at conjunction with the Sun mid month, so is not observable.

VESTA is an evening object setting near 1 am by the 31st. It moves from Cetus to Aries mid month.

ASTRAEA is at opposition on January 21 with a magnitude 8.9.

 

Brian Loader

 

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