Astronomy Events – January 2015

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by yaska77

Another year has been ticked off and a squeaky clean and shiny new one is upon us, all fresh faced and full of promise and optimism. Many start off the new year with plans, aspirations or resolutions, but all too soon most of us will become complacent and slip back into routine, forgetting why we wanted to change something in the first place. But the challenge is to keep at it.

It would therefore be hypocritical of us to sit in the warm with a “do as I say not as I do” attitude (especially given the lack of our own photo posts in 2014) so the next clear night that isn’t cold enough to be affected by frost we will get some new images for you!

And as no one wants to be standing around in the cold aimlessly scouring the skies for something to see, we’ve cherry picked some interesting events to help get you started. So fill a flask with something hot, bundle up in plenty of layers, and get out under the stars. So that only leaves one thing to say…

Happy New Year from all at Sky-Watching!

Saturday 3rd January – The annual Quadrantid meteor shower peaks around 18:00 UTC this evening, however the light from the near full Moon is likely to drown out all but the brightest of meteors. A meteor shower is always worth a look though (in our honest opinion!) so if your skies are clear why not go hunting for shooting stars!?

Sunday 4th January – The Earth is at Perihelion today, the closest it will come to the Sun this orbit (at a distance of 147 million kilometres or 91.4 million miles)

1. Planet at aphelion 2. Planet at perihelion 3. Sun
1. Planet at aphelion 2. Planet at perihelion 3. Sun – Credit: WikiCommons

And on this day in 2004 the rover Spirit landed on Mars

Monday 5th January – The Full Moon today is sometimes known as the Winter Moon, Ice Moon or Wolf Moon

Wednesday 7th January Jupiter pays a close visit to the Moon this evening. Rising just before 19:00 UTC, it’s shown below to the south east at 23:30 UTC

Gas giant Jupiter follows the Moon across the sky all evening, look south east about 23:00 UTC (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium
Gas giant Jupiter chases the Moon across the sky all evening, look south east about 23:00 UTC (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Friday 9th January – Today the Moon is at Apogee at a distance of 405,410 km (251,910 miles), the furthest point out in its orbit around the Earth this month

Tuesday 13th January – This morning our Moon will be seen at Last Quarter phase

Wednesday 14th January Mercury is at Greatest Eastern Elongation, and may be visible low down to the south west soon after sunset if you’ve got some good binoculars or a telescope

Friday 16th January – To help identify the constellations you can see throughout the month, below we’ve provided guide images for both southern and northern skies in January

Shown at 00:00 UTC on 16th January, both these images are a handy guide for the whole month. This is the view you’ll get looking South (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium
Shown at 00:00 UTC on 16th January, both these images are a handy guide for the whole month. This is the view you’ll get looking South (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium
Displaying the night sky midway through the month, this image can help you identify the constellations you’ll see in the northern sky in January (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium
Displaying the night sky midway through the month, this image can help you identify the constellations you’ll see in the northern sky in January (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Tuesday 20th 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

Winter constellation Orion once again dominates the evening sky, and is instantly recognisable! These Moon free evenings really allow it to stand out

Orion has long been a favourite of stargazers (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn
Orion has long been a favourite of stargazers (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

Hanging off Orion’s Belt you’ll find his sword, which includes the beautiful M42 Orion Nebula (and its close neighbour M43). We’ve imaged this a couple of times but will be trying again. Practice makes perfect after all (and they’re such a beautiful sight!) and you could do far worse on a clear winter evening than give it an ogle if you’ve got some good binoculars or a small telescope!

M42 the Orion Nebula is a great sight through binoculars or a small telescope (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn
M42 the Orion Nebula is a great sight through binoculars or a small telescope, and you can also see M43 top left (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

Wednesday 21st January – Today the Moon is at Perigee (the closest point of its orbit to the Earth) at a distance of 359,640 km (223,470 miles), and if you can see its crescent at sunset you might also spot Mercury just below it to the left

Thursday 22nd January – If you have a nice flat western horizon you might be able to catch a gathering of celestial objects soon after sunset this evening, as the thin crescent Moon is joined by Mars, Venus and Mercury!

If you look low down to the west soon about 17:15 UTC, you might catch a glimpse of the thin crescent Moon joined by Mars, Venus and Mercury (click to enlarge) Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium
If you look low down to the west soon about 17:15 UTC this evening, you might catch a glimpse of the thin crescent Moon joined by Mars, Venus and Mercury, all in conjunction (click to enlarge) Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Saturday 24th January – If you can face the early cold this morning and have a telescope to point at Jupiter, you can catch a transit of the three Jovian moons of Io, Callisto and Europa

Shown above at 06:34 UTC, the moons will clearly be visible crossing the disc of the planet if you have a view through a telescope (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium
Shown above at 06:34 UTC, the moons will clearly be visible crossing the disc of the planet if you have a view through a telescope (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Beginning at 06:28 UTC and ending at 06:53 UTC, the moons will cast shadows across the planet which can be an awesome sight to observe! Wrap up and get out and see it!

Sunday 25th January – NASA rover Opportunity landed on Mars on this day in 2004, three weeks after Spirit

Tuesday 27th January – This morning the Moon is at First Quarter phase

Friday 30th January – Inner planet Mercury is in Inferior Conjunction today

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 and we’ll re-tweet them to your fellow sky-watchers!

Planets visible this month:

Jupiter
Mars
Mercury
Saturn
Neptune
Uranus
Venus

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

Archive:
Astronomy Events – December 2014
Astronomy Events – November 2014
Astronomy Events – October 2014

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Dee says:

    Hiya, I was most excited to learn that I snapp a photograph of Jupiter with my tablet a couple of months ago. And when I zoom in, am able to see it’s bands! 😊 Most chuffed and excited. Now, I’d love to send it to you, only I don do Twitter. Is there some other simple way I can send it to? Best wishes. Dee.

    Like

    1. Dee says:

      Goodness, I hate poor grammar and spelling. Oh the joys of predictive text! Dee.

      Like

    2. yaska77 says:

      Hi Dee! We’ll have a look at getting an email address set up for image submission, watch this space!

      Looking forward to seeing your image! 🙂

      Adam

      Like

  2. Dee says:

    Hi and thanks Adam, it’s definitely Jupiter, the curious thing is, that although it was an incredibly clear night, the upper left segment of the planet appears to be obscured by some sort of shadow. Perhaps once you’ve seen my picture you might be able to shed a little light.

    Best wishes.

    Dee 😊

    Like

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