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Monday, 20 January 2020  •  Monday, 25 Rowan Moon 2020

Watching the night sky in Rowan Moon 2020

27 December 2019 - 24 January 2020

Map of night sky at full moon: 10 January, 19:21 UTC
Northern hemisphere perspective, aligned on the ecliptic. Morning sky to the left, evening to the right.

night sky map for Rowan Moon 2020

Venus climbs further from behind the sun into the western evening sky, gradually brightening. The crescent moon is nearby on 28 and 29 December.

Mars likewise climbs further into the eastern morning sky, passing into Scorpius on 7 January, not yet as bright as Scorpius’ bright red star, Antares. On 15 January, Mars moves quickly on into Ophiuchus. On 18 January it passes well to the north of Antares. The old crescent moon is nearby on the mornings of 20 and 21 January.

Jupiter emerges from behind the sun into the morning sky, rising about an hour before the sun by the end of the month. See it between the old crescent moon and the sunrise on 22 January. You may be able to see the even older crescent moon near Jupiter on 23 January.

Mercury and Saturn are behind the sun all month.

At full moon on 10 January there is a penumbral eclipse of the moon, visible from Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and the Arctic. Maximum eclipse is at 19:10 UTC, when some darkening of the moon’s southern limb is visible. In a penumbral eclipse as seen from Earth, nowhere on the moon has a total eclipse of the sun. Instead, at 19:10, there is a 90% eclipse visible from the moon’s south pole. There are no total or partial eclipses of the moon this year.

Look out for the Quadrantid meteors around 3 & 4 January, and especially in the early hours.

The month ahead: Ash Moon 2020

25 January - 23 February 2020

Map of night sky at full moon: 9 February, 07:33 UTC
Northern hemisphere perspective, aligned on the ecliptic. Morning sky to the left, evening to the right.

night sky map for Ash Moon 2020

Venus is the noticeable evening star, gradually moving further out from the sun during the month, and brightening. On 27 and 28 January, the new crescent moon is nearby, but also on 27 January, unseen by the naked eye, Venus passes just four minutes of arc south of the ice giant Neptune. Look for the encounter with a telescope or good binoculars.

On 9 February, Mercury reaches 18°E of the sun in the western evening sky. For a week or so around this date, you should have a very good view of the elusive planet from the northern hemisphere, with Mercury in the WSW between Venus and the sunset. Half a degree west of the pair is the naked eye star Phi Aquarii.

Mars continues to climb slowly into the morning sky, still not as bright as the nearby red star Antares in Scorpius. Nevertheless, it is moving quickly through the stars, and on 11 February joins Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto in the constellation Sagittarius. The moon is nearby on 18 February. By the end of the lunar month, Mars is nearing the much brighter Jupiter in the sky.

Jupiter rises after Mars, and shines very brightly in the morning sky, albeit quite low down in the SE as seen from northern lands. Around the middle of the month, Saturn also emerges into the dawn, brighter than Mars, but harder to see in the twilight. With a good view of the south-east sky, you can see Saturn, Jupiter and Mars in a curved line out from the dawn. The moon is between Mars and Jupiter on 19 February, and between Jupiter and Saturn on 20 February.

William Morris
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