We’d like to take this opportunity to wish all our visitors a very happy and prosperous New Year! 2013 has much potential for stargazing and we’ve vowed to bring you more photos and articles than ever before.
As usual we’ve highlighted below some great heavenly happenings throughout January to keep your eyes skyward and don’t forget UK astro fans, Stargazing Live! returns to our screens on the 8th January for another series.
It’s all very exciting!
Wednesday 2nd January – The Earth is at Perihelion today, the point in it’s orbit where it passes closest to the Sun
Thursday 3rd January – The best time to try catch some of this year’s Quadrantid meteor shower is probably after nightfall this evening. The peak is actually around the middle of the day, but with the Moon rising later tonight (around 23:15 UTC) some of the fainter meteors will be lost in the glare as midnight approaches
The radiant shows the direction meteors will appear to originate from, but they can appear all across the sky! Shown above at 23:00 UTC (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium
While the Quadrantids can produce hundreds of meteors an hour, this year the ZHR in the early evening is expected to be lower at around 10-20 meteors per hour.
If you’ve got clear skies however any meteor shower is worth craning your neck for so wrap up warm, get outside and see how many you can spot!
Saturday 5th January – Today is a last quarter Moon
Tuesday 8th January – The BBC’s ever popular Stargazing Live! returns to our screens this evening (BBC2/BBC HD 20:00 UTC) as hosts Professor Brian Cox and comedian Dara O Briain kick off the new series looking at Mars exploration
Professor Brian Cox and comedian Dara O Briain return for 3 more nights of Stargazing Live! Last year viewers helped identify a new planet using the data from Planethunters.org – Credit: BBC
Wednesday 9th January – This evening Stargazing Live! will look into how it is possible to chart the history of the Universe by looking millions of light years out into the depths of space (BBC2/BBC HD 20:00 UTC)
Thursday 10th January – The Moon is at Perigee today at a distance of 360,045 km (223,722 miles), the closest point in its orbit to the Earth
In the final episode of this series of Stargazing Live! Professor Brian Cox and Dara O Briain discuss meteors, comets and asteroids, and examine what the study of them reveals about the origins of life (BBC2/BBC HD 20:00 UTC)
Friday 11th January – This evening it’s a New Moon which rises and sets just before the Sun. This makes it a good time to observe deep sky objects like NGC 2244, an open cluster of stars in the heart of the Rosette Nebula in Monoceros, found to the right of Orion
NGC 2244 is an open cluster of stars in the heart of the Rosette Nebula (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn
I took the image above last February after watching an episode of Stargazing Live! It was a late night but the images I got were worth the lack of sleep I believe (click here to see for yourself!)
Saturday 12th January – A 21 hour old slither of crescent Moon may just be visible low down to the southwest immediately after sunset this evening. If you have clear skies and a zoom lens on your camera you may be able to get a shot of this faint but illusive occurrence
Friday 18th January – Today is a first quarter Moon, and the planet Mercury is in Superior Conjunction. This means it is on the opposite side of the Sun to the Earth so will be unobservable until the end of the month
Monday 21st January – Jupiter appears high in the sky this evening, midway between the Hyades and Pleiades clusters (see below). Joining the bright winter object is the waxing gibbous Moon which may dim the stars around it
Shown to the south at 20:00 UTC the waxing gibbous Moon appears next to Jupiter and between Hyades and Pleiades clusters this evening (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium
Tuesday 22nd January - Today the Moon is at Apogee at a distance of 405,310 km (251,848 miles), the farthest point in its orbit to the Earth
Sunday 27th January – The Full Moon this morning is also sometimes called the Wolf Moon, Ice Moon or Old Moon
Thursday 31st Jaunary – Mercury makes a brief appearance low down in the southwest just after sunset. Those with a flat horizon and clear skies may find this a challenging photo target (but then Mercury usually is!)
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
Astronomy Events – December 2012
Astronomy Events – November 2012
Astronomy Events – October 2012