Happy New Year! Firstly, all of us at Sky-Watching would like to wish our visitors a very happy 2014! It’s because you keep visiting and reading our posts that we keep writing, and although weather and circumstance have been against us uploading more of our own images in 2013, we’re fresh faced and eager to get stuck into 2014.
Well, once the after effects of our celebrations have worn off and the weather has improved of course 😉
Don’t forget Series Four of Stargazing LIVE starts on BBC2 and BBC2 HD on Tuesday 7th January at 20:00. Running for three consecutive evenings (and following the now established format) the show will be a mix of studio demonstrations, video reports and amateur content and interaction.
Followed immediately after by Stargazing LIVE: Back to Earth, the half hour after show with more discussion and content, if you can watch BBC2 where you are it’s three evenings of great space related viewing.
With that and all the other astral activities we’ve noted below for the whole month, get outside and get stargazing live!
Keep watching the skies!
Wednesday 1st January – The New Moon rises with (and sets just after) the Sun today, so now is a good time to observe deep sky objects when the skies are unaffected by moonlight
It is also at Perigee today at a distance of 356,920 km (221,780 miles), the closest point of its orbit to the Earth
The first of the annual meteor showers peaks this evening. The Quadrantids have been known to peak with a ZHR of up to 80 meteors per hour. Thankfully today the Moon sets early so if your skies are clear enough it could be quite a show!
Quadrantids are seen most often as blue or yellow streaks, and will be visible all over the sky from nightfall (with the peak around 19:00 UTC) appearing to emanate from the constellation Boötes to the north (see above for radiant guide)
Winter constellation Orion can also be found due south at 23:00, so if you’ve got some binoculars or a telescope you should be able to spot M42, the Orion Nebula, which is part of the sword on Orion’s belt
Saturday 4th January – Our own dear planet Earth is at Perihelion today, the closest we come to the Sun at distance of 146.9 million km (91.3 million miles)
Wednesday 8th January – This morning the Moon is seen at First Quarter phase
Saturday 11th January – Bright planet Venus is in Inferior conjunction today, which happens when a planet that is within our orbit passes between the Earth and the Sun. If your horizons are flat enough you could catch Venus both just after sunset on the 10th and again just before sunrise on 11th
Tuesday 14th January – The Moon and Jupiter appear as near neighbours in the sky this evening. Shown below at 23:00 looking due south, even with the glare from the Moon the gas giant will be visible
Wednesday 15th January – Continuing our latest addition to this guide, below we’ve provided constellation guides for Southern and Northern skies in January!
Thursday 16th January – The Full Moon in the sky this morning is also sometimes known as the Winter Moon, Holiday Moon or Ice Moon
It also appears at Apogee at a distance of 406,535 km (252,609 miles), the furthest point out in its orbit around the Earth
Friday 24th January – The morning Moon appears at Last Quarter phase today
Thursday 30th January – The second New Moon of the month makes the end of January another good time to observe the fainter deep sky objects that pepper our sky!
Friday 31st January – Our Sun’s closest planet Mercury is at Greatest Eastern Elongation today, appearing low down to the West at sunset if your horizon is low enough. As an extra treat, you might just catch the faintest sliver of waxing crescent Moon into the bargain
As usual, if you take any photos throughout January you’d like to show us, please tweet them to us using the link below! We’d love to see your efforts!
Planets visible this month:
Remember, it can take your eyes up to 20 minutes to become properly dark adapted, and anything up to an hour for a telescope to reach ambient temperature outside (to ensure the best image), so give yourself plenty of time to get set up!
To make it easier to find this list of astronomical happenings you can also locate it in the “Monthly Guide” section in the menu bar to the right. Handy! 🙂
Guide images created with Stellarium