Society News and Night Sky Notes – January 1999

Clear & Dark Skies for 1999 from all at Liverpool A.S.

Society News Headlines

  • Jan 2nd – 40th Anniversary (1959) of Russian Lunar One Launch. (1st Moon Mission).
  • Jan 3rd – Mars Polar Lander Launch due to-day.
  • Jan 3rd – Pluto passes 12″ South of Zeta Ophiuchi.
  • Jan 3rd – Quadrantids Meteor Shower Peak.
  • Jan 4th – Earth at Perihelion To-day (0.983 AU from Sun.)
  • Jan 8th – Public Open Night at the LAS Pex Hill Observatory.7:30pm – 9:30pm.
  • Jan 9th – Moon is 3° North of Mars.
  • Jan 10th – NASA NEAR spacecraft goes into orbit around the asteroid EROS to-day
  • Jan 14th – Venus is only 54′ South of Uranus.
  • Jan 15th – Liverpool A.S. Jan Monthly Meeting, 19:00pm at Liverpool Museum Lecture Room, William Brown Street, Liverpool.Cosmology by Chris Jorden, Salford A.S.
  • Jan 16th – Moon is 4° North of Mercury.
  • Jan 18th – Comet P/1998 W1 (Spahr) at Preihelion (1.584AU).
  • Jan 19th – Moon is 2° North of Venus.
  • Jan 22nd – Moon is 2° South of Jupiter.
  • Jan 22nd – Liverpool A.S. Sidewalk Astronomers meet at Leasowe Lighthouse Wirral from 19:00pm.
  • Jan 24th – Comet C/1998 M5 (Linear) at Perihelion. (1.747.AU).
  • Jan 24th Moon is 2° South of Saturn.
  • Jan 27th – Comet 52/P (Harrington-Abell) at Perihelion. (1.758 AU).
  • Jan 27th – BAA Ordinary Meeting, Savile Row, London 17:30pm.
  • Jan 31st – Penumbral Lunar Eclipse – (Not seen well from Liverpool).


Will it be cloudy to-night?, ask the The U.K. Goverment Met Office Weather service.
To make your own star chart fo your location at any time, Click Here.

The Sun and Moon

All times are in GMT the same as U.T. Times For Observer in Liverpool, Merseyside, England, U.K.

Latitude 53 degs 24 mins North.
Longitude +3.0 degs West.

            1st       6th       11th      16th      21st      26th       31st
SUNRISE    08:27     08:26     08:23     08:19     08:13     08:06      07:59
SUNSET     16:04     16:10     16:17     16:25     16:34     16:44      16:53
at 02h:50m
at 14h:23m
NEW MOON>on 17th
at 15h:47m
at 19h:16m
FULL MOONon 31st
at 16h:08m

On the 3rd the Earth is at Perihelion – the closest distance to the Sun in 1999. It is at a distance of 0.983280 (AU Astronomical Units).

On the 31st there will be a penumbral eclipse of the Moon. Penumbral eclipse are relatively unexciting when compared with partial or total lunar eclipses as the Moon only passes through the Earth’s partial shadow – the penumbra. This months event is even more undistinguished with the fact that the eclipse starts before the Moon rises. The eclipse ends at 18h:30m, the Moon having risen some 1 hour 36 minutes earlier.



Mercury finishes off a morning apparition which was at its best between December 12th – 22nd 1998. This Table gives more details. (link removed as URL is invalid)


Venus is becoming a favourable evening object low down in the South West approximately 40 minutes after Sunset. At almost full phase on the opposite side of the Sun as seen from the Earth, it presents a disk only 11″ of arc across throughout the month. As the apparition progresses towards gibbous phase in April it will appear larger ar 14″ and in mid-June when it is almost between the Earth and the Sun it will show a half phase of 27″ diameter. On the 19th Venus is 1° North of the Moon.


Mars is at Western quadrature half way through January which means that it lies 90° to the West of the Sun, moving further away from the Sun and closer to the Earth all the time. Using a high magnification with a telescope you may notice that one side of the disk does not appear sharp. In fact, because the planet is at a right-angle with the Sun from our view point we are not looking square on to the sunlit hemisphere but are peeking around the corner, so to speak, and are seeing part of the night side of Mars. The bright star lying approximately 4° South of Mars on the 11th is Spica – Virgo’s primary star.

MARSWATCH – latest observations of the red planet.


Ceres at mag 7.7 can be found in Taurus and Vesta at mag 6.9 in Leoduring the month.

For More information on Asteroids Click Here.


Jupiter is moving swiftly through Pisces and descends into the Western evening twilight with the Moon passing 2.5° South on the 22nd. Its diameter is decreasing as it moves further away from us and appears 35″ across by the end of the month.

Launched in October 1989, the Galileo Jupiter Probe entered orbit around the great planet on December 7th 1995. The Project Galileo Homepage will give you up-to-date information and the very latest images returned.


Saturn too, is heading towards the Sun, passing 3° North of the Moon on the 24th and under 1° South of the star Omicron Piscium on the 30th. Diameter at mid-month is 18″.


Both outer planets are at Solar conjunction this month, and are unfavorable for observations at this time. Neptune is at Solar Conjunction on the 22nd.


Pluto is unfavourable placed for observations and will be out of view until mid-March.


QUADRANTIDS 80 per Hour ZHR – max on the 4th (UnFavorable – Full Moon on 2nd).



  • Jan 18th – Comet P/1998 W1 (Spahr) at Perihelion (1.584 AU).
  • Jan 24th – Comet C/1998 M5 (LINEAR) at Perihelion (1.747 AU).
  • Jan 27th – Comet 52/P (Harrington-Abell) at Perihelion. (1.758 AU).
  • Comet 29p/ (Schwassmann-Wachmann) on view during Jan.
  • Comet 21p/ (Giacobini-Zinner) on view during Jan.

Plus these pages will give daily and weekly reports of this and other Comets progress.


  • Jan 7th at 02h:23m Reappearance of Sigma Leonis.
  • Jan 27th at 00h:53m Disappearance of Gamma Tauri.