Astronomy Events – January 2016

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by Adam Welbourn

A new year is once again upon us, and like nearly everyone else you find us smiley faced and full of hope as to what 2016 will bring!

There’s a lot happening in January from an astronomical viewpoint, and as usual we’ve cherry picked some happenings of interest so hopefully there will be something for everyone.

And if you still need a little push out the door, BBC’s Stargazing LIVE returns to our screens on Tuesday 12th January at 21:00 on BBC2 for the first of four shows over consecutive evenings. January is a great time to go stargazing 🙂

Keep watching those skies…

Saturday 2nd January  – This morning our Moon will be seen at Last Quarter phase, and is also at Apogee at a distance of 404,275 km (251,205 miles), the furthest point its orbit will take it away from the Earth this month

Also today the Earth is at Perihelion, the closest point its orbit brings it to the Sun

1. Planet at aphelion 2. Planet at perihelion 3. Sun
1. Planet at aphelion 2. Planet at perihelion 3. Sun

Sunday 3rd January – Tonight sees the peak of the annual Quadrantids Meteor Shower. These small particles from old comet 2003 EH1 often burn blue or yellow, so get out around midnight before the Moon rises to spot those shooting stars!

Thursday 7th January – Early risers will catch a rare sight this morning, as the Moon comes up not long before the Sun with Venus and Saturn for company. Look to the south east just before 06:00 UTC

Forming a beautiful triangle in the morning sky, the Moon, Venus and Saturn are close companions before sunrise this morning (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium
Forming a beautiful triangle in the morning sky; the Moon, Venus and Saturn are close companions before sunrise this morning (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Saturday 9th January – Before sunrise this morning brilliant Venus passes very close to Saturn.  So close in fact that with the naked eye it will be difficult to tell Saturn is there at all!

Use some binoculars and you’ll soon see the two are separate (despite Venus being nearly 100 times brighter!), but through a telescope you should easily be able to fit both clearly in the same field of view. A great chance for some imaging!

Through a small telescope you should see the orb of Venus next to the ringed world of Saturn (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium
Through a small telescope you should see the bright orb of Venus next to the ringed world of Saturn in the same field of view! (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Sunday 10th January – Today the New Moon rises and sets with the Sun, so now is a good time to observe deep sky objects like galaxies and nebulae, or get a clearer look at objects usually blurred and faint in light polluted skies

Tuesday 12th January – BBC’s Stargazing Live starts tonight on BBC2 (and BBC2 HD) from 21:00, and continues for the next 4 evenings!

Thursday 14th January – Inner planet Mercury is in Inferior Conjunction and is currently unobservable

Friday 15th January – Today the Moon is at Perigee at a distance of 364,355 km (226,400 miles) from the Earth, the closest it will come on it’s current orbit

Saturday 16th January – This evening the Moon will be seen at First Quarter phase

And to help you 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 19th January – If you have some good binoculars or a small ‘scope the Moon occults several stars of the Hyades cluster this evening, eventually passing in front of red giant Aldebaran (in the constellation Taurus) just before it sets around 03:00 UTC on 20th

The Moon crosses through the Hyades cluster over the course of the evening, shown above at 22:30 UTC (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium
The Moon crosses through the Hyades cluster over the course of the evening, shown above at 22:30 UTC (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Sunday 24th January – Today’s Full Moon is sometimes known as the Winter Moon, Holiday Moon or Wolf Moon

Wednesday 27th January – Waning Moon accompanies Jupiter across the sky this evening, rising just before 21:00 UTC the pair will look great through binoculars or a small telescope!

Shown above at 22:00 UTC, Jupiter and the waning Moon will accompany each other across the sky this evening (click to enlarge) - Credit:Sky-Watching/Stellarium
Shown above at 22:00 UTC, Jupiter and the waning Moon will accompany each other across the sky this evening (click to enlarge) – Credit:Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Saturday 30th January – The Moon is at Apogee for the second time this month today, at a distance of 404,550 km (251,376 miles)

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!

Happy new year from everyone at Sky-Watching!

Planets visible this month:

Venus
Saturn
Neptune
Mars
Uranus
Jupiter
Mercury

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 2015
Astronomy Events – November 2015
Astronomy Events – October 2015

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Sukanya Ramanujan says:

    Informative as ever! Happy New Year!

    Like

    1. yaska77 says:

      Thank you Sukanya, Happy New Year! 🙂

      Like

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