Stargazing at January 2018

Stargazing at January 2018 will show that there is no better way to open the year then with Supermoon and finish it with Blue Moon. Meteor showers will be present in the beginning of January. During January Moon will be travelling through the night sky will few planets, Jupiter, Mars, Mercury and Saturn.


Calendar for January

  • 3rd of January – Earth closest to Sun at 147 million kilometres
  • 3rd and 4th of January Nights – Quadrantid meteor shower
  • 3rd to 11th of January – Conjunctions of Mars and Jupiter
  • 12th to 14th of January – Conjunctions of Mercury and Saturn
  • 11th to 15th of January – Moon will pass by Jupiter, Mercury and Saturn in the morning sky.
  • 31st of January – Blue Moon


More about the Events

Algol star

Located in constellation Perseus, it represents the head of dreadful Gorgon Medusa. Algol’s magnitude is nearly constant at 2.1, but careful observations reveals regular dipping to 3.4 every 2 days 20 hours and 49 minutes during 10 hours long partial eclipses. 

John Goodricke an 18-year-old deaf amateur astronomer in York discovered regular changes of star brightness in 1783, and proposed that the star might have a large planet orbiting it that periodically blocked some of its light. In 1881 Edward Charles Pickering an astronomer from Harvard University presented evidence that Algol star is in fact eclipsing binary, later in 1889 it was confirmed.

Neptune and Uranus

Evening sky is home to two most remote planets, dim Neptune at magnitude of +7.9 will be visible not with naked eye in Constellation Aquarius and will set at around 8:30pm. Slightly brighter Uranus at magnitude of +5.8 will be visible in constellation Pisces, on the borderline of naked eye visibility range and will be setting at 0:30am. 


On the nights of January 1st & 2nd our natural satellite Moon is going to be at its closest point in 2018, that being 356 567 kilometres away and will appear 14% bigger then at its furthest point in orbit. During ‘supermoon’ the brilliant orb will be extra bright, around 30% more luminous then the faintest full moon. 

The name of ‘supermoon’ describes the closest point in its orbit (perigee) and wasn’t invented by astronomers, astrologers who made biggest input of creating this catchy name by trying to link ‘supermoon’ with earthquakes, tsunamis or volcanic activity. The actual gravitational effect gained during ‘supermoon’ is mare 3% then average. 

Blue Moon

This phrase doesn’t have any scientific history, it derives from American farming almanacs, as second full moon in the month it is called “Blue Moon”.


Quadrantid meteor shower

Tiny particles from old comet 2003 EH dust burn up in the atmosphere, at a rate of over a 100 meteors per hour. The peak of the shower is quite short and lasts for about an hour, but the bright moonlight will obscure some of the show. 

Conjunctions of Mars and Jupiter

Jupiter at magnitude of –1.9 will be unmistakable among faint stars in Libra constellation, gas giant will rise around 3am. Mars will be clearing the horizon about the same time but 20 times fainter at magnitude +1.4 will follow the same path as Jupiter just 15 arc-minutes from Jupiter. 

Conjunctions of Mercury and Saturn

Mercury will be observable but very low in south-east just before down at magnitude of –0.3. On its way to twilight Mercury will pass through Saturn which will be at magnitude of +0.5 only half Mercury’s brightness, night at 13th January the distance between two planets will be just 40 arc-minutes and on second half of the month Saturn will be on its own rising about 6:30am in constellation Sagittarius. 

Moon’s travel through the night sky

Moon will pass by Jupiter, Mercury and Saturn in the morning sky. 

Blue Moon

Blue Moon will happen on night of 31st of January, a total lunar eclipse visible from North America and Asia but not from UK

Reference list:

2018 Stargazing (Philip’s, Britain & Ireland) – Book

Wikipedia – Algol star – Quadrantid Meteor Shower