Observation tips: Small planetary parade of Mercury and the gas giants

© SuW graphic (excerpt)

Morgenstern meets planet of war | Don’t miss this must-see rendezvous between Venus and Mars in the morning sky on January 29th. The moon timidly joins them.

Jupiter stands, –2.1 mag bright, conspicuous in January in the evening sky. However, the sinking of the giant planet is premature from 8:50 p.m. CET on January 1st to 7:29 p.m. on the last day of the month. This means that at the end of January there is only about an hour left to observe the planet and its moons. In the telescope, Jupiter, measured at the equator, appears to be around 35 arc seconds in size. The waxing moon will pass Jupiter from January 5th to 6th south (see “Little Planet Parade”).

Saturn, the conspicuous ring planet, disappears at the end of the month in the bright dusk and thus steps away from the celestial stage. On January 1st, the ring planet sinks at 7:05 p.m. CET, on the 15th at 6:19 p.m. In the first days of January all bright planets with the exception of Mars can be seen at dusk for a short time, whereby you need a clear, unobstructed view to the west, especially for Mercury and Venus. From January 4th to 5th, the moon moves south past Saturn (see “Little Planet Parade”).

© SuW graphic (excerpt)

Small planet parade | Hangover after New Years? Not a trace! At the beginning of the year, the planets make a particularly well rested impression and gather in a pretty chain formation in the evening sky from January 4th to 6th.

Uranus, 5.8 mag bright in the constellation Aries, becomes the object of the first half of the night. On January 1st, the planet culminates at 8:09 p.m. CET and sets at 3:25 a.m. the following morning. By the end of the month, its sinking will be premature at 1:27 a.m. This leaves enough time to study the pale green disk that appears in the telescope as 3.6 arc seconds in size. On clear, moonless nights, it can be found with the naked eye as a faint asterisk, just under eleven degrees southeast of the 2.0 mag bright star Alpha Arietis (α Ari).


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