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)
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
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
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
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!
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!
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:
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 StellariumFollow @sky_watching