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The Planets

Planet Data For January

Click on any planet below to go straight to its section.

MercuryVenusMarsJupiterSaturnUranusNeptuneObs for All

The table below shows key data for the planets this month, including rise, transit and set times, as well as magnitude, apparent size and position data (right ascension and declination).

Events that occur when the sun is below the horizon are shown with a black background and white text. All other events happen when the sun is in the sky and other for not visible for observation.

We’ve got all of the outer planets looking good this November, while the inner planets, Venus and Mercury, are not visible at all because they have both just passed behind the sun.

Mars is large, bright and properly visible in evening skies this November as it is just days away from its opposition in early December. Jupiter and Saturn have both recently passed their closest approaches to Earth and still look wonderfully large and bright in the early evening.

Finally, completing the set, Uranus and Neptune are visible in the evening this month too, which adds a nice little challenge to collect the set.

All of the images below can be opened full screen in a new tab by clicking on them


Mercury

05th January

1730 1 / Mercury is only a week away from passing behind the sun and rises alongside it this morning. We can’t observe it.

15th January

0700 6 / A week since superior conjunction and Mercury is an evening planet. It is still too close to the sun to see.

25th January

0730 10 / This is the view just after 5pm and the smallest planet is still too close to the sun for viewing.

Mercury passes behind the sun (superior conjunction) on 08 November. It spends the whole month so close to our star that we won’t be able to observe it.

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Venus

05th January

1800 5 / This is the view just after 6pm. It is only 12 days since venus passed behind the sun and is too close to it to be observed.

15th January

1800 9 / As the clocks change, we still see Venus too close to the sun to be viewed as it sets around 5pm.

25th January

1830 9 / Very little changes as we approach the end of November and we will not be able to see Venus at this point.

Venus passed behind the sun on 23 October and spends the month of November too close to our star to be observed.

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Mars

05th January

2100 73 / Mars is moving to be a viewable evening object now. This is the scene at 11pm with Mars 27° above the east horizon.

15th January

2100 75 / With the clocks ‘fall back’ we can see the Red Planet high in the east, between the horns of Taurus the bull at 10pm.

25th January

2100 74 / Mars is still firmly lodged in Taurus at 10pm, midway between the eastern horizon and zenith.

As November comes to an end, Mars is only days away from its closest approach to our planet in two years. That means we’re set for stunning views of the Red Planet throughout November.

Another positive consequence of a planet reaching opposition is that it is in the sky all night long. For a few months now, only those of us willing to get up early have been able to spy Mars but, now, it is firmly moving into evening viewing, especially as the clocks fall back an hour.

In the second half of November, Mars is high above the eastern horizon by ten o’clock, midway between horizon and zenith. At this point, its disc is over 17 arcseconds wide and it’s shining at magnitude -1.8, making it unmistakably bright this month. There are rarely better times to observe Mars than right now.

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Jupiter

05th January

2000 37 / This is the view at 10pm and Jupiter is midway between the south horizon and zenith. The planet is still almost 50 arcseconds wide.

15th January

1900 41 / Best viewing right now is around 9pm, which we see in the view above. Jupiter is surrounded by Pisces, Cetus, and Aquarius.

25th January

1900 37 / We’re now seeing Jupiter at 8pm here, about 50° over the south horizon.

We see the largest planet in the solar system noticeably shrink this month, but it will still be the largest planet for us to look at by 30 November, when its disc will be 43 arcseconds wide.

This November is a fantastic time for viewing Jupiter because it is high over the southern horizon in the early evening, which also makes it a great time to introduce children to the joys of astronomy before bed time!

For all your viewing needs, there is a full guide to observing the planet included with the Virtual Astronomy Club. Click this link for all the details of what to look for this month while the planet is bright, large, and visible all night.

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Saturn

05th January

1830 17 / This view shows the sky at 8pm. The ringed planet is 34° above the southern horizon, shining at magnitude 0.7.

15th January

1830 12 / After we adjust the clocks, we see Saturn at its highest around 7pm. Its disc is just below 17 arcseconds across now.

25th January

1830 6 / Look for Saturn as soon as the sky is fully dark to get the best views of it, when it is highest in the sky.

This is the last really good month to see Saturn as it moves gradually closer to the sun, by December it will begin colliding with dusk.

The disc width and brightness barely change over the course of September and peak viewing, when the planet crosses the southern horizon, is before 11pm by the end of the month.

We’ll see the disc shrink marginally from 17.2 to 16.4 arcseconds across and dim slightly from magnitude 0.7 to 0.8. All of us planet lovers should be taking the chance this month to spy the ringed planet this November.

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Uranus & Neptune

15th January – Uranus

2100 59 / At 10pm, we can see Uranus two-thirds of the way towards the zenith above the southeast horizon.

15th January – Neptune

1900 33 / Uranus is transiting the southern horizon at 8pm very near to Jupiter.

Both of the two most distant planets offer good viewing this month, with each being high above the horizon on the early evening.

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All Planets Viewer

Use the table below to see when each of the planets is observable for each day this month. Click on it for full screen.

A planet is classed as observable when it is more than 10° above the horizon and the sky is dark enough for it to be observed.

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Planet ephemeris tables produced with the kind permission of Dominic Ford. Sky images are courtesy of SkySafari Pro 6.

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