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Astronomical Events for 2019

by Malcolm Porter

Sources– Extracts from the BAA 2018 Handbook, The BAA 2019 Handbook, Astronomy Now 2019 Yearbook, and Philip’s Stargazing 2019 Month by Month Guide.

This list has been built around the idea of the Astro Highlights being largely visible to the naked eye, through binoculars or through a small telescope or that can be imaged using a digital camera that has at least a manual (M) setting.

As you will see there are, subject to reasonable weather conditions, a whole raft of viewing/imaging opportunities in 2019. However, please check the accuracy and completeness of the information presented before setting off to view.

December 2018

3rd December 2018 – The Crescent Moon, Venus and Mercury are together in the pre-dawn

5th December 2018 – 21:00 UT – Mercury is 2 degrees south of the Moon

7th December 2018 15:00 UT – Mars 0.04 is degrees north of Neptune

9th December 2018 05:00 UT – Saturn is 1 degree South of the Moon

12th December 2018 – Comet 46P/Wirtanen at perihelion and moving from Taurus and into Auriga, magnitude – various guesses between +2.9 and +5.5!

14th December 2018 08:00 UT – Geminid Meteor shower is at its peak with the Moon out of the way

15th December 2018 11:00 UT- Mercury is a morning object at greatest western elongation of 22 degrees but low in the sky

21st December 2018 – Winter Solstice

21st December at 2018 19:23 UT– Occultation of 104 Tauri (Magnitude +4.9). Is it a double star???

21st/22nd December 2018 – Mercury will be 0.8 degrees north of Jupiter

22nd December 2018 – Ursid Meteor shower – Moon in attendance!

Venus starts the month as a crescent and by mid-month rises some four hours before the Sun and by the end of the month has faded a little from magnitude -4.7 to -4.5 and will appear as a ‘quarter phase’.

Throughout December we are presented with great riches, particularly in Taurus, with the Hyades and the Pleiades, Orion with its Nebula M42 and Gemini with its open cluster M35.

January 2019

1st January 2019 22.00 UT – Venus is 1.3 degrees south of the Moon

3rd to 4th January 2019 03:00 UT – Quantrantid Meteor Shower with a favourable lunar position

6th January 2019 05.00 UT – Venus is at greatest elongation of 47 degrees west

17thJanuary 2019 18:00 UT Moon just misses Aldebaran by 1.6 degrees

19thJanuary 2019 02.31 UT – Moon occults χ1 (chi) Orion (magnitude +4.4)

21st January 2019 02:36-07.48 UT – Total Lunar Eclipse visible from UK

21stJanuary 2019 16.00 UT – The Beehive Cluster is 0.6 deg. north of the Moon

31st January 2019 18:00 UT – Venus is 0.1 degrees south of the Moon

Some January Constellations and Objects of note – Again the southern skies beauties of Orion, and its Nebula, Canis Major and Sirius, Taurus and the Hyades and Pleiades.

During January 2019 Mars, at magnitude +0.7 and Uranus close by at magnitude +5.8, are visible in the constellation of Pisces with Neptune at magnitude +7.9 visible in the constellation of Aquarius.

February 2019

1st February 2019 06:30 UT – The Crescent Moon close by Venus and Jupiter

2nd February 2019 07:00 UT – The thin crescent Moon rises next to Saturn

12th February 2019 – Good chance of identifying the greenish Uranus, using binoculars, and Mars which will be one degree to the right

11th February 2019 15:48 UT – Occultation of Xi Ceti (magnitude +4.3)

13/14th February 2019 – The Moon has a very close encounter with the Hyades

17th/18th February 2019 – The Moon skims the edge of the Beehive Cluster

19th February 2019 – a so called ‘Super Moon’!  

27th February 2019 01:00 UT – After sunset Mercury is at greatest elongation at 18.1 degrees east

Overnight during February it is worth looking for the double cluster in Perseus and in the early pre-sunrise morning look for Venus, Jupiter and Saturn.

March 2019

1st March 2019 17:00 UT – Saturn is 0.3 degrees south the Moon

2nd March 2019 21:00 UT – Venus is 1.2 degrees north of the Moon 

13th March 2019 17:12 UT – Occultation of 97 Tauri (magnitude +5.1)

13th March 2019 10:00 UT – Aldebaran is within 2 degrees south of the Moon

17th March 2019 01:00 UT- The Beehive Cluster is half a degree north of the Moon

20th March 2019 22:00 UT– The Vernal Equinox

27th March 2019 02:00 UT – Jupiter is less than 2 degrees south of the Moon

29th March 2019 04:00 UT– Saturn is 0.1 degrees north of the Moon

March 2019 – Jupiter rises around 02:00 UT and Saturn around 04:00 UT. Also, if you have a small telescope or a DSLR point it in the direction of the Beehive cluster also known as the Praesepe

Towards the end of March 2019 Mars can be seen in the constellation of Taurus between the Pleiades and the Hyades.

April 2019

2nd April 2019 04:00 UT – Venus is 2.7 degrees north of the Moon

7th April 2019 11:34 UT – Occultation of Mu Ceti (magnitude +4.3)

11th April 2019 19:00 UT – Mercury at greatest elongation at 27.7 degrees west but low down in the sky

13th April 2019 20:00 UT – The Beehive Cluster is 0.2 degrees north of the Moon

22nd April 2019 16:00 UT – Lyrid Meteor Shower with the Moon out of the way at peak time

25th April 2019 15:00 UT – Saturn 0.4 is degrees north of the Moon – Occultation in parts of Australia!!!

April 2019 – Mars is visible close to the Pleiades but continues to shrink as it moves away from Earth

April 2019 – Jupiter rises in the southeast around 00:00 UT shining brilliantly at around magnitude -2.3

April 2019 – Saturn is starting its journey away from the Sun, rising at around 02:00UT

Take a look at the constellation Leo which really does look a bit like a lion which is lying down. Also, if you have at least a small telescope look for the spiral galaxy M66 below Leo.

May 2019

5th May 2019 13:00 UT – Eta Aquarius Meteor Shower and the Moon is out of the way!

6th May 2019 17:06 UT – Occultation of Delta Tauri (magnitude +3.8)

11th May 2019 02:00 UT – The Beehive Cluster is 0.0 degrees south of the Moon!

22nd May 2019 23:00 UT – Saturn is 0.5 degrees north of the Moon. Occultation is again visible in parts of Australia!

Towards the end of the month Mercury moves away from the Sun, shining at a Magnitude of-1.4 and not setting until after 09:00 UT!

Jupiter rises around 10:00 UT at magnitude -2.5

Saturn rises about 00:00 UT at magnitude +0.4

Time to take a look at the Summer Triangle and, in particular, adjacent to Vega you will see Epsilon Lyrae which binoculars will show you is a double star and a moderate telescope will show you that it is a double, double star!

May is also a good time to look for probably the most famous globular cluster Messier 13 in the constellation of Hercules visible as smudge in binoculars or a small telescope, however, a medium size telescope will start to resolve the cluster into individual stars.

June 2019

7th June 2019 07:00 UT – The Beehive Cluster is 0.2 degrees south of the Moon

10th June 2019 15:00 UT – Jupiter is at opposition

18th June  2019 18:00 UT – Mercury is 0.2 degrees from Mars

19th June 2019 04:00 UT – Saturn is 0.4 degrees north of the Moon– this time the occultation is visible in South America and Southern Africa!

21st June 2019 16:00 UT – Summer Solstice

23rd June 2019 23:00 UT – Mercury is at greatest elongation of 25.2 degrees East -best evening appearance of the year!

28th June 2019 03:09 UT – Occultation of Xi Ceti (magnitude +4.3)

30th June 2019 09:25 UT – Occultation of Delta Tauri (magnitude +3.8)

Jupiter is visible all night long shining at magnitude -2.6

Saturn rises at around 10:00 UT and shines at magnitude +0.3

Given a clear horizon look towards the South to see the very red Antares (redder than the Red Planet) and the claws of Scorpio!

July 2019

2nd July 2019 19:00 UT – Total Solar Eclipse visible from South Pacific and South America

4th July 2019 15:00 UT – The Beehive Cluster is 0.2 degrees south of the Moon

9th July 2019 16:00 UT – Saturn is at opposition and at its brightest at magnitude+0.1

13th July 2019 07:00 UT – Mars is 0.4 degrees to the south of Beehive Cluster

16th July 2019 07:00 UT – Saturn is 0.2 degrees north of the Moon. Yet again the occultation is visible in parts of Australia!

16th July 2019 21:00 UT – Partial Lunar Eclipse

27th July 2019 UT 21:23 UT – Occultation of Epsilon Tauri (magnitude +3.5)

28th July 2019 15:00 UT – Delta Aquarid meteor shower  – The Moon is below the horizon at key watching time

Jupiter remains bright at magnitude -2.5 and is close by Antares

Look to the South to see constellation Sagittarius and the centre of the Milky Way, or almost above your head to see, with a small telescope or binoculars or image with a DSLR, the North America Nebula in Cygnus, another celestial object which looks like its name!

August 2019

9th August 2019 Pre-dawn – See Mercury at its greatest western elongation of approximately 19 degrees

12th August 2019 10:00 UT – Saturn is 0.0 degrees north of the Moon. Once more the occultation is visible in parts of Australia!!!!!!

13th August 2019 07:00 UT- Perseids Meteor Shower, however this year the Moon will interfere 

24thAugust 2019 02:43 UT – Delta 1 Geminorum occulted by the Moon (magnitude +3.8)

24th August 2019 03:26 UT- 64 Tauri Occulted by the Moon (magnitude +4.8)

24th August 2019 04:23 UT – 68 Tauri Occulted by the Moon (magnitude +4.3)

27th August 2019 04:05 UT – Delta Geminorum Occulted by the Moon (magnitude +3.5)

28th August 2019 11:00 UT – The Beehive Cluster is 0.2 degrees south of the Moon

Jupiter continues to dominate the night sky at magnitude -2.3 with Saturn higher up to the left at magnitude +0.2

Once the sky is reasonably dark the Dumbbell Nebula (Messier 27), in the constellation of Vulpecula, will be visible in a medium size telescope and really does look a bit like a ‘dumbbell’!

September 2019

6th September Neptune (magnitude +7.8) is half an arc-minute from Phi Aquarii magnitude +4.2

8th September 2019 16:00 UT – Saturn is 0.0 degrees north of the Moon. Occultation again visible in parts of Australia!!!!

10th September 2019 06:00 UT – Neptune at opposition

19th and 20th September 2019 The Moon ‘flirts’ with the Pleiades, the Hyades and Aldebaran

23rd September 08:00 UT – Autumnal Equinox

24th September 21:00 UT – The Beehive Cluster is 0.4 degrees south of the Moon

Jupiter remains brilliant at magnitude -2.1 in constellation Ophiuchus but sets around 21:30 UT

Saturn is in the south at magnitude +0.4 and sets around 23:30 UT

If you have a clear horizon to the south look for Fomalhaut the southernmost first magnitude star visible from Britain

Also look for NGC 7789, Caroline’s Rose, a beautiful sprawling cluster some 30 arc-minutes across and magnitude +6.7 in the constellation of Cassiopeia.

October 2019

5th October 2019 21:00 UT – Saturn is 0.3 degrees north of the Moon. Occultation visible in parts of South America and Parts of Africa.

19th October 2019 00:23 UT – The Moon occults Xi Tauri (magnitude +3.0)

20th October 2019 04:00 UT – Mercury is at greatest elongation 24.6 degrees east but low down in the sky

21st October 2019 23:00 UT – Orionid Meteor Shower – the waning Moon should not interfere too much with this shower. 

22nd October 2019 06:00 UT – The Moon occults the Beehive Cluster 

28th October 2019 08:00 UT – Uranus is at opposition

Jupiter still bright at magnitude -2.0 but now setting by around 08:30 UT

Saturn fading gently to magnitude +0.5 and setting around 10:30 UT

Look for the Andromeda Galaxy (M31) by finding the square of Pegasus and tracking the stars away in an easterly direction along a sort of bent arm of stars.Should be relative easy to see through a small telescope or binoculars

November 2019

2nd November 2019 07:00 UT – Saturn is 0.6 degrees north of the Moon. Occultation visible in parts of South America and Parts of Africa.

6th November 2019 00.00 UT – Taurid Meteor Shower – The Moon will be largely out of the way

11th November 2019 12:35 to 18:04 UT – Transit of Mercury, with much of the transit visible from the UK – DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN!!!!

13th/14th November 2019 UT – The Moon moves through the Hyades occulting several!

15th November 2019 21:52 UT – Eta Geminorum occulted by the Moon (magnitude +3.5)

16th  November 2019 01:31 UT – Mu Geminorum occulted by the Moon (magnitude +2.9)

18th November 2019 23:00 UT – Leonid Meteor Shower – Unfortunately the Moon will make viewing difficult

18th November 2019 10:00 UT – The Beehive Cluster is 0.9 degrees south of the Moon

28th November 2019 10:00 UT –  Mercury is at greatest elongation 20.1 degrees west

28th November 2019 10:29 UT – Jupiter is occulted by the Moon with the reappearance visible from Greenwich!!!

29th November 2019 21:00 UT – Saturn is 0.9 degrees north of Moon. Occultation visible in Antarctica!

Look for Messier 15, an amazing globular cluster which is home to an estimated 100,000 stars, is to the lower left of the constellation Pegasus. It appears as a smudge in binoculars or a small telescope, however, a telescope of 6 inches or more will start to resolve it into beautiful individual stars.

December 2019

10th/11th December 2019 – Beautiful Venus (magnitude -4.0) passes Saturn low in the southwest after sunset

13th December 2019 06:44 UT – Eta Geminorum occulted by the Moon (magnitude +3.5)

14th December 2019 18:00 UT – The Geminid Meteor shower at peak, however the Moon will be in attendance

22nd December 2019 04:19 UT – Winter Solstice

23rd December 2019 03:00 UT – Ursid Meteor shower – This year the Moon should not interfere too much!

29th December 2019 01:00 UT – Venus is 1.0 degrees north of the crescent Moon

Mars rises at about 05:00 as it starts its path towards a favourable position in October 2020 when it will not be as close as in 2018 but will be higher in the sky when viewed from the UK

Take a look at the constellation Auriga with Capella the 6th brightest in the sky. Also, with binoculars or a small telescope, look for three pretty open star clusters within the body of the constellation, Messier 36, 37 and 38.

Don’t forget the Orion Nebula, one of the few clearly visible in our light polluted skies! Always worth pointing binoculars, a telescope or a camera in the direction of Messier 42!

Summary of 2019 Astro Highlights

21st January 2019 02:36-07.48 UT – Total Lunar Eclipse visible from UK

17th/18th February 2019 UT – The Moon skims the edge of the Beehive

29th March 04:00 UT – Saturn is 0.1 degrees north of the Moon

April 2019 – Jupiter rises in the southeast around 00:00 UT shining brilliantly at around magnitude -2.3

May 2019 – Towards the end of the month Mercury moves away from the Sun, shining at a Magnitude of -1.4 and not setting until 09:00 UT at month end!

10th June 2019 10:15 UT – Jupiter at opposition

16th July 2019 21:00 – Partial Lunar Eclipse

August: Jupiter continues to dominate the night sky at magnitude -2.3 with Saturn to the left higher up at magnitude +0.2

10th September 2019 06:00 UT – Neptune at opposition

28th October 2019 08:00 UT – Uranus at opposition

11th November 2019 12:35 to 16:15 UT – Transit of Mercury, with much of the transit visible from the UK – DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN!!!!

10th/11th December 2019 – Beautiful Venus (magnitude -4.0) passes Saturn low in the southwest after sunset