All 5 planets are visible. Mostly all in the morning. The small planet Mercury is best seen from before 7 am onwards in the constellation Sagittarius. The bright Venus is best seen from 6.20 am onwards in the constellation Sagittarius. The red planet Mars is best seen from 1.40 am onwards in the constellation Libra. The giant planet Jupiter is best seen from 9 pm onwards in the constellation Leo. The planet with the rings Saturn is best seen from 4.35 am onwards in constellation Ophiuchus.
From now onwards, the constellation Cancer the Crab is the faintest of twelve signs of the zodiac and is a challenge for anyone living in the suburbs of Ashbourne town. It can be found between Gemini, the Twins and Leo, the Lion, in the middle of a triangle formed by the stars Procyon, Castor and Regulus. Cancer is also the only constellation where a deep sky object is actually brighter than almost all the stars. In this case, the star cluster in question is M44, the Beehive or Praesepe star cluster, which can be found in the middle of the crab and may be seen with just your eyes under reasonably dark skies. It is a large cluster, only 577 light years away, and one of the few that appears better in binoculars than through a telescope. Have a go!
Wednesday 27 January
A very bright Iridium flare appears at 5.19 pm in the South South West at an altitude of 26° in the constellation Cetus. Iridium are satellites orbiting around the Earth. They are visible with the naked eye in the night sky as a moving star. At certain times and positions Iridium flares lit up and get bright for a few seconds. A second Iridium flare appears at 6.45 pm in the South South East at an altitude of 41° in the constellation Taurus.
At 7.27 pm the International Space Station (ISS) with our astronaut Team Peake will have an orbit manoeuvre rocket burn. Some calculations might have been off with less than a minute.
At nearly midnight, the Moon is at ascending node. After midnight, at 1.14 am the giant planet Jupiter is only 1.4° North of the Moon. This is about 3 lunar diameters. Jupiter has been visible in morning sky over the past few months, but is rising earlier by each day. Jupiter will be at its best visibility of the year on 9th of March, when it will be easily visible throughout the entire night. The altitude of the close encounter with the Moon is 19° and the Moon phase is 86%.
Watch Jupiter and its 4 bright Moons with a binocular or small telescope. You will be able to see some Jovian Moons movements. At 0.08 am the Jupiter Moon Callisto begins its transit. At 1.29 am the Great Red Spot will transit the giant planet Jupiter. At 1.50 am the Jupiter Moon Callisto ends its transit and at 4.44 am the Jupiter Moon Io begins its eclipse.
The Moon is close to the star called Zavijah in the constellation Virgo at 6.50 am. The limb separation is just over 3 lunar diameters. The height of the Moon is then 24° and the Moon phase is 83%. Watch this before twilight if you can.
Thursday 28 January
Get your telescope out (or binoculars) and watch the giant planet Jupiter. At 10.37 pm the Jupiter Moon Europa begins its transit. At 11.39 pm the Jupiter Moon Europa ends its shadow over the planet. After midnight at 1.20 am the Jupiter Moon Europa ends the transit. At 2.03 am the Jupiter Moon Io begins its shadow over the planet. At 2.55 am the Jupiter Moon Io begins its transit. At 4.19 am the Jupiter Moon Io ends the shadow transit and at 5.09 am the Jupiter Moon Io ends it actual transit.
There is an Iridium flare visible in the North at 5.30 am. It appears at 29° altitude in the constellation Cassiopeia.
The Moon is close to the star called Porrima just before 7 am. The limb separation is about 3° or over 6 lunar diameters. The altitude is 26° and the Moon phase 76%. The star called g29 Virginis is close as well and at about the same distance from the Limb. Use a binocular to see.
At 7.08 am an Iridium flare appears in the East North East at 28° high in the constellation Cygnus. And before Sun rise the Great Red Spot will transit the Jupiter disc.
Friday 29 January
Before midnight, at 11.13 pm the Jupiter Moon Io begins its eclipse. At 2.19 am the Jupiter Moon Io reappears form its occultation. And at 3.07 am the Great Red Spot will transit Jupiter.
Hard to spot, but look for Mercury in the mornings. At 5.58 am the little planet Mercury is in conjunction with Pluto. They are only 33' or about a lunar diameter separated. Use a good telescope to watch as Pluto is very faint.
At 6.05 am the Jupiter Moon Ganymede begins its eclipse.
Before Sun rise, at 7.02 am a rather bright Iridium flare appears in the East North East an altitude of 28° and in the constellation Cygnus.
Saturday 30 January
The Moon is in apogee at 9.10 am. The distance of the Moon to the Earth is 252821 miles or 404514 km.
Not that you will see in daylight, but the closest the planet Mercury gets to Pluto is at 2.50 pm in the afternoon. They are only 30.7' separated. Look for Mercury in the morning. To spot Pluto you will need a good telescope.
An Iridium flare appears at 5.10 pm in the South South West at an altitude of 24° in the constellation Aquarius.
Take a good binocular or telescope and watch Jupiter. At 9.21 pm the Jupiter Moon Io begins its transit. At 10.47 pm the Jupiter Moon Io ends its shadow. At 10.22 pm the Great Red Spot is in transit over the planet, and at 11.35 pm the Jupiter Moon Io ends its transit.
A brighter Iridium flare appears at 6.46 am in the East North East at an altitude of 24° in the constellation Lacerta. Another brighter flare is at 7.20 am in the North at an altitude of 65° in the constellation Ursa Minor.
Sunday 30 January
Today in 1961 the US launched a 4 year old male chimpanzee named Ham on a Mercury-Redstone 2 rocket into suborbital flight to test the capabilities of the Mercury capsule. During his 16.5 minute suborbital flight, Ham experienced about 7 minutes of weightlessness, reached an altitude of 108 miles and a speed of 13000 mph. He was wired to medical sensors to monitor his vital signs. During flight, Ham performed some simple tasks such as pulling levers when a light came on for a reward of banana pellets. Ham was recovered safely 1425 miles downrange. This was a test flight before risking the lives of human beings. After Ham's successful flight, NASA was ready to launch the first Mercury astronaut, Alan Shepard, into sub-orbital flight three months later.
The small planet Mercury brightens to what we call magnitude 0 at noon. Look in the mornings where it should be spotted before Sun rise.
After midnight, look at the Southern horizon, at about 54° for the Gegenschein. It is a faint glowing patch of sky in constellation Cancer, about 35° above galactic plane.
It is Last Quarter Moon at 3.28 am. This is the 2nd smallest Last Quarter Moon of the year. The former smaller Last Quarter Moon was on 2 January 2016. The next smaller Last Quarter Moon is on 18 February 2017.
At 4.45 am the Great Red Spot transits the giant planet Jupiter.
An Iridium flare appears at 5.18 am in the South West at an altitude of 62° in the constellation Coma Berenices.
Just before Sun rise, at 7.20 am the Last Quarter Moon is close to the red planet Mars. The limb separation is only 4 lunar diameters. The Moon phase is now 49%. This is a relatively close pairing that should provide for an attractive sight in the hours before the dawn.
Monday 1 February
Not visible during daytime, but look in the morning for Mercury. The small planet is at 12.25 pm in dichotomy of half phase. You will see Mercury like our quarter Moon in a telescope.
At 4.52 pm the red planet Mars is close to the star called Zuben Elgenubi. They are 1° separated. Look in the early morning when they are still relatively close together.
At 6.24 pm a very bright Iridium flare is appears in the South at an altitude of 41° in the constellation Taurus.
Look for the Gegenschein after midnight. A faint glowing patch of sky at about 54° altitude and above the Southern horizon in the constellation Cancer.
The Great Red Spot will transit Jupiter at 0.36 am.
The Moon is close to the bright star Zuben Elakrab at 6 am before Sun rise. The limb separation is just over half a lunar diameter. The altitude is 21° and the Moon phase is 40%.
An Iridium flare appears at 6.24 am in the North East at an altitude of 20° in the constellation Lacerta. Another flare is at 6.27 am at about the same spot in the sky. Keep looking!
Tuesday 2 February
Today in 1962 eight planets lined up for the first time in 400 years. Today, and until 20 February, we have 5 planets line up. Have you watched them yet?
At 6.10 pm a rather bright Iridium flare appears in the West North West at an altitude of 12° in the constellation Vulpecula. Another bright flare is at 6.19 pm in about the same spot in the sky. And ... another flare at 6.28 pm in again about the same spot in the sky. A truly rare event and worth to watch in this time span.
The International Space Station is back visible. Short and worth a try to watch. ISS appears at 7.36 pm in the South West and disappears already after 3 minutes at 7.39 pm at about 10°.
Before midnight, at 11.13 pm the Jupiter Moon Ganymede begins its transit and at 11.21 pm the Jupiter Moon Ganymede ends it shadow over the giant planet Jupiter.
Try to see the Gegenschein after midnight. The faint glowing patch of sky is relatively good for observation at about 54° altitude and above the Southern horizon in the constellation Cancer.
At 2.19 am the Jupiter Moon Ganymede ends its transit. And at 5.05 am the Jupiter Moon Europa begins its eclipse.
An Iridium flare appears at 6.09 am in the North East at an altitude of 17° in the constellation Lacerta.
The Great Red Spot is in transit on Jupiter at 6.23 am. Use a good binocular or small telescope.
The Moon is showing its Earthshine at about 6.30 am before Sun rise. Look close to the Moon at about 2 lunar diameters distance. The rather faint star called Phi Oph might be seen. The altitude of the Moon is 18° and the Moon phase 30%.
Wednesday 3 February
Today in 1966 three days after its take off, the unmanned Soviet Luna 9 spacecraft landed safely on the Moon in the Ocean of Storms. It was the first ever soft landing on another celestial body, and opened the way for manned trips to the Moon. By then there were doubts of surfaces being unsafe or dusty quicksand.
An Iridium flare appears at 6.04 pm in the West North West at an altitude of 13° in the constellation Vulpecula. Iridiums are satellites, moving as a dotter star in the night sky. Iridium flares sudden lights up in the sky at the time and position indicated. These are bright mirrors or mostly antennas turning in the direction of Sunlight. The Sun is under the horizon, but brightening for our visibility as the satelites are high about the Earth. You do not need a telescope of binocular to watch.
At 6.35pm the Zodiacal Light can be observed. Looks for a brighter triangle patch in the West South Western horizon after Sun set.
The International Space Station, called ISS, appears at 6.44 pm in the South South West. ISS disappears already after 5 minutes at an altitude of 17°. ISS is a satellite and moves in the night sky as a bright dot or star. You can watch it easily with the naked eye.
The Gegenschein can be seen just after midnight when a good dark sky. Look for a faint glowing patch of sky at about 53° above the Southern horizon in the constellation Cancer.
You will need a good binocular or a small telescope to see and watch the events on and around Jupiter. At 2.14 am the Great Red Spot will transit the giant planet.
Look at the Moon at about 5 am. The Moon is close to the planet with the rings Saturn. They are about 11 lunar diameters separated. The altitude is only 6° and the Moon phase is 22%. Look later when the Moon is higher in the sky and still be close to Saturn. This is 2 days after the Moon is encountering Mars. The waning crescent Moon now passes Antares and appears close to Saturn. The Moon will continue to move on toward both Mercury and Venus on the 6th. Look for the Earthshine on the Moon a little later at 6.30 am.
An Iridium flare appears at 5.34 am in the North East at about an altitude of 10° in the constellation Pegasus. A brighter flare appears at 5.44 am at about the same spot in the sky.
At 6.38 am the Jupiter Moon Io begins its eclipse.
Daytime and hard to see. The Moon is in maximum libration South at 11.18 am. The South Pole is tipped into the Earths view.
Get in touch with me via www.patrickpoitevin.weebly.com if you need more information.