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Manchester Astronomical Society
Established 1903

Manastro Journal for December

In the Sky for the next few weeks:-

The Moon

1st Quarter on the 4th

Full Moon on the 12th

3rd Quarter on the 19th

New Moon on the 26th

The Moon and M44 will make a close approach, passing within 1°17' of each other. The Moon will be 19 days old.

From Manchester, the pair will be visible in the morning sky, becoming accessible around 20:17, when they rise to an altitude of 7° above your north-eastern horizon. They will then reach its highest point in the sky at 03:15, 56° above your southern horizon. They will be lost to dawn twilight around 07:51, 28° above the western horizon.

Planet of the month


Diameter: 12104 km 0.9488 Earths
Mass: 0.8150 Earths
Density: 5.26 g/cc (water=1)
Gravity: 0.905 G
Rotation Period: 243.01 days 243d 00h 14m



Venus is the second planet from the Sun, and has often been described as Earth's "sister planet" because it bears a striking similarity to Earth in size, density, and composition. But its similarities end there: the surface of Venus is one of the most inhospitable places in the solar system.

Venus, the legendary "morning star" and "evening star", has been a symbol of love, beauty, and material security for thousands of years. Perhaps this is due to her brilliant appearance and consistent celestial motions.

As the "lady of love", Venus was the Roman goddess of beauty, love and sex. Medieval skywatchers, in Persia and the Middle East, along with their European counterparts, kept this ancient notion alive. The result today is a worldwide association of Venus, the planet of consistency and brilliant light, with femininity and love.

SUN, 29 DEC 2019 AT 01:58 GMT (01:58 UTC). The Moon and Venus will make a close approach, passing within 0°58' of each other (about the width of 2 full moons). The Moon will be 3 days old. From Manchester, the pair will be difficult to observe as they will appear no higher than 13° above the horizon.

They will become visible around 16:20 (GMT) as the dusk sky fades, 13° above your south-western horizon. They will then sink towards the horizon, setting 2 hours and 53 minutes after the Sun at 18:43. The Moon will be at mag -10.0, and Venus at mag -4.0, both in the constellation Capricornus. The pair will be a little too widely separated to fit comfortably within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

Constellation of the Month: Cetus (shown 15th December 21:00)


Cetus constellation is located in the northern sky. Also known as the Whale, it is one of the largest constellations in the sky

The constellation was named after Cetus, the sea monster from the Greek myth about Andromeda. In the myth, the princess was sacrificed to the monster as punishment for her mother Cassiopeia’s boastfulness.

The constellation Cetus lies in the region of the sky called the Water, along with several other constellations with names evocative of water: Eridanus (the river), Aquarius (the water bearer), Pisces (the fish), etc. It was catalogued by the Greek astronomer Ptolemy in the 2nd century.

Cetus is home to the barred spiral galaxy Messier 77 and several well-known stars: Deneb Kaitos (Beta Ceti), Menkar (Alpha Ceti), Tau Ceti and the famous variable star Mira (Omicron Ceti).

Messier 77 is a barred spiral galaxy in Cetus, approximately 47 million light years distant and 170,000 light years in diameter. It has an apparent magnitude of 9.6. It is one of the largest galaxies listed in Messier’s catalogue.


M77 Hubble Image © NASA, ESA & A. van der Hoeven

Cetus is also host to a multitude of NGC objects, including NGC 17, 45, 47, 247, 1042, 1055, 1073 & 1087.

Meteor Showers

Peak 6th φ-Cassiopeid

Peak 7th Puppid-Velids (ZHR 10)

Peak 8th Monocerotids (ZHR 2)

Peak 11th σ-Hydrids (ZHR 3)

Peak 11th Geminids (ZHR 120) - Best shower in December.

Peak 15th Comae Berenicids (ZHR 3)

Peak 20th Leonis Minorids (ZHR 5)

Peak 22th Ursids (ZHR 10)

Members Recent Images

Here is a selection of some of the recent images from our members


Moon - ©Martyn Jones - 18/11/19


Sun - ©Kevin Kilburn - 18/11/19

Transit of Mercury

Transit of Mercury - ©Kevin Kilburn - 11/11/19

NGC 896

NGC 896 - ©Alan Beech - 23/11/19




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