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Manchester Astronomical Society
Established 1903

Manastro Journal for February

In the Sky for the next few weeks:-









Zenith - South at the bottom

Zenith - South at the bottom

The Moon

1st Quarter on the 2nd

Full Moon on 9th

3rd Quarter on the 15th

New Moon on 23rd

The Moon and M44 will make a close approach, passing within 1°17' of each other. The Moon will be 15 days old

From Manchester the pair will be visible in the evening sky, becoming accessible around 17:26 (GMT) as the dusk sky fades, 13° above your eastern horizon. They will then reach its highest point in the sky at 23:36, 56° above your southern horizon. They will continue to be observable until around 06:34, when they sink below 7° above your western horizon.

Planet of the month: Mercury

Diameter: 4879 km 0.3825 Earths
Mass: 0.05527 Earths
Density: 5.45 g/cc (water=1)
Gravity: 0.378 G
Rotation Period: 58.65 days 58d 15h 30m



Mercury is the smallest and innermost planet in the Solar System. Its orbit around the Sun takes only 87.97 days, the shortest of all the planets in the Solar System. It is named after the Roman deity Mercury, the messenger of the gods.

Mercury will reach its greatest separation from the Sun in its January–February 2020 evening apparition. It will be shining brightly at mag -0.6.

Mercury will also reach it's highest point in the evening sky on the 12th Febuary. From Manchester, this apparition will be reasonably placed but nonetheless tricky to observe, reaching a peak altitude of 14° above the horizon at sunset on 13 Feb 2020

Constellation of the Month: Drago (shown 15th February 21:00)


Draco constellation lies in the northern sky. It is one of the largest constellations in the sky.

The constellation’s name means “the dragon” in Latin. Draco represents Ladon, the dragon that guarded the gardens of the Hesperides in Greek mythology.

Draco is one of the Greek constellations. It was first catalogued by the Greek astronomer Ptolemy in the 2nd century. It is a circumpolar constellation; it never sets below the horizon for many observers in the northern hemisphere.

Draco contains several famous deep sky objects, most notable ones being the Cat’s Eye Nebula (NGC 6543), the Spindle Galaxy (Messier 102, NGC 5866), and the Tadpole Galaxy.

The constellation Draco is associated with several myths, most frequently with the one about the 12 labours of Heracles, represented by the neighbouring constellation Hercules. In the myth, Draco represents Ladon, the dragon that guarded the golden apples in the gardens of the Hesperides.


M102 Spindle Galaxy © NASA

Meteor Showers

There are no meteor showers of note this month. The next main meteor shower being the Lyrids in April.

MAS Society & MAS Facebook members' recent images

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

Heart Nebula

Heart Nebula - ©Alan Griffiths- 10/01/20

Penumbral Eclipse

Penumbral Eclipse - ©Mark Forbes - 10/01/20


M51 - ©Phil Swift - 14/01/20

M81 & M82

M81 & M82- ©Alan Griffiths - 05/01/20

M81 & M82

Rosette Nebula- ©Gary Gilbert - 19/01/20




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