January 2019 is upon us and first of all, I would like to wish you Happy New Year!

Did you get a telescope or binoculars for Christmas? Maybe an astronomy book or new camera? January 2019 is perfect for getting started. You can certainly count on long dark nights and crisp starry skies. As long it stays clear.

January 2019 is a fantastic month for stargazing. Whether you are a beginner or seasoned stargazer. There is something for all.

Read on to find out even more about the night Sky in January 2019.

January 2019 Night Sky Guide

Evening Planets

The only prominent planet in the evening sky is Mars in January 2019. The red planet is now well past its best and sets around 11.30 pm in the dim constellation of Pisces.

Neptune and Uranus are visible in a small telescope or good binoculars. You will find a star map or astronomy app rather useful in finding them.

Morning Planets

The mornings are certainly far more interesting in January 2019. Brilliant Venus shines brightly at around magnitude -4.5 in the pre dawn sky.

Jupiter rises around 6am to the lower left of Venus and can be seen to the left of the bright star Antares. The king of the planets is a lot less bright than Venus at roughly magnitude -2. However, still very bright and obvious to spot. As the month moves on Jupiter and Venus will move closer together. Jupiter will pass over Venus on the morning of the 22nd January 2019. On January 1 – 3 and then 30 – 31 Venus and Jupiter are joined by the Crescent Moon. This will be an amazing sight and a perfect photo opportunity!

Saturn makes an appearance in the dawn twilight at approximately 7am. It is much fainter than Jupiter and Venus. It’s further away to the left of the photographic trio of Venus, the Moon and Jupiter on the 31st.

Venus, Crescent Moon and Jupiter January 31 Credit Stellarium

The Moon in January 2019

The Moon generates a fair amount of interest in January 2019 with some close encounters and a rather impressive eclipsed Supermoon toward the end of the month.

Credit: VirtualAstro

The Full Moon in January is also known as the Full Wolf Moon in folklore. Believed to originate from the dark ages Anglo Saxon calendar. The Moon of Howling Wolves. Other names from European and North American traditions are the Moon After Yule, Ice Moon, Old Moon and Snow Moon. The latter is usually the name for the Full Moon in February.

Moon phases for January 2019 are as follows:

  • New Moon – January 6, 01:28
  • First Quarter – 14 January, 06:45
  • Full Moon – 21 January, 05:16
  • Last Quarter – 27 January 21:10

Moon Events and Close Encounters

  • January 1- 3 Crescent Moon joins Venus and Jupiter in the early Morning Sky.
  • Moon and Mars close together January 12.
  • The Moon and Aldebaran in Taurus are close together on January 17.
  • The best Lunar Eclipse of the year occurs on January 20/21 during a Full Supermoon. (even more info in another article coming shortly)
  • January 30 – 31 Crescent Moon joins Venus and Jupiter in the pre dawn sky.
Blood Moon
Credit: Maxwell Palau from the VirtualAstro Flickr group

Comet 46P/Wirtanen

Comet 46P/Wirtanen is on the edge of naked eye visibility in January 2019. The comet can be seen moving from the constellation of Lynx into Ursa Major early in the month but is fading fast. A tough binocular object mid month and best seen in a telescope before it disappears altogether.

Quadrantid Meteor Shower

Of all the meteor showers in 2019 the Quadrantids will be the best!

Why? You may ask! The Quadrantids are the only good meteor shower without the presence of the Moon spoiling the view. This year, the Perseids in August and Geminids both have an almost Full Moon during both showers. In addition, other showers get interfered with by the Moon in 2019. So, the Quadrantids in January 2019 are our best bet of seeing a Moon free meteor shower this year. This is due to their peak activity being on the January 2019 Full Moon.

The Quadrantid Meteor Shower peaks on the evening of 3/4 January 2019 with maximum activity expected after midnight and before dawn on the 4th. The Meteor Shower will be visible from January 1 – 6.

The Quadrantids originate from the debris stream of asteroid 2003 EH1 which is odd as meteor showers with the exception of the Geminids originate from comets.

The Quadrantid peak is quite narrow, being only a couple of hours. Therefore at the right time, an observer could see 50 – 80 meteors per hour. The radiant/ point of origin is in the now defunct constellation of Quadrans Muralis. In the early 20th Century, the constellation was removed by the International Astronomical Union. The radiant is now in Bootes. To find out even more about viewing the Quadrantids see this guide here.

Credit Meteorwatch @VirtualAstro

Constellations

January 2019 brings some striking and familiar constellations into view. Above all Orion is probably the most famous and striking of all the constellations and is due south in all it’s glory this month. There are many wonderful things to see in this constellation and you can find out more about them in Orion Constellation – Mighty Guardian of Winter Skies. 

Top right of Orion is the constellation of Taurus the Bull. The bright orange giant star Aldebaran (Visited by the Moon on January 17) in the V shaped Hyades cluster and Pleiades star cluster further to the right further some more. Find out more about the Pleiades in Pleiades – Seven Sisters – Subaru – M45. Jewel of Winter Skies.

To the lower left of Orion is the Constellation of Canis Major – The big dog. The constellation is itself rather unimpressive and lies low in the sky from the UK. Its crowning glory is its alpha star Sirius – The Dog Star. Brightest star in the whole night sky. Sirius is famous for its twinkling. Often mistaken for a UFO due to its bright flashes of colour. Find out more about Sirius and why it twinkles so much here.

Credit: Stellarium

In the northern sky you will find all of the usual circumpolar constellations. The only difference is their positions. Cassiopeia and Cepheus are almost seated upside down and Ursa Major – The Big Dipper or Plough is tail/ handle down mid month.

International Space Station

International Space Station (ISS) passes start again in the evenings over the UK late January 2019. Times and info will be posted closer to the time.

Further reading:

Quadrantids 2019 – Best Meteor Shower this Year

Orion Constellation – Mighty Guardian of Winter Skies

Orion Constellation

iPhone Night Sky Photography – Take Night Sky Pics Using Your iPhone

Pleiades – Seven Sisters – Subaru – M45. Jewel of Winter Skies

Comet in the Sky – How to See This Months Comet

Comet 46P/Wirtanen

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