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What's Up...
Some observing hilights
to look forward to...



The following tips on exciting current and upcoming astronomical events
have been gathered from magazines and other sources by Dave Gamble
with the objective of giving OC RASC members a heads-up on
special personal
astro-experiences to look forward to. They are complemented by pictures from Jim Failes' extensive personal photo collection.


Thurs. Jan. 1 - Tonight the swelling Moon is in Taurus the bull, nestling with the Hyades not far from bright Aldebaran.

Fri. Jan. 2 - The good news is that the  Quadrantid meteor shower peaks early tomorrow morning. The bad news is that the nearly Full Moon is going to crash the party. The Quadrantid stream is a generous one with frequencies that can reach up to 120 meteors per hour,  however all but the brighter members will be washed out by moonlight this year. The shower emanates from the constellation Bootes which rises higher into the eastern sky after midnight.

Sun. Jan. 4 - If cold temperatures prevail today, some consolation may be found in the fact that the Earth is at its perihelion, the point in its orbit when it is closest to the Sun. Below is a comparison of the size of the Sun at perihelion in January and aphelion in July which was prepared by Jim Failes.




Sun. Jan. 4 - This is Full Moon night with the fully illuminated face looking down on winter scenes in the Okanagan. A picture of the Full Moon rising which was taken by Jim Failes appears below.




Wed. Jan. 7 - Tonight the waning Moon will pass about the width of your three middle fingers from brilliant Jupiter high in the midnight sky.

Fri. Jan. 9 - For the next several nights, the two inner planets will perform  tight dance low in the west just after sunset. Illusive Mercury will be seen just to the right of bright Venus. Below is a picture of Venus and Mercury over the horizon which was taken by Jim Failes.




Tues. Jan. 13 - This is Last Quarter Moon night when the neatly divided Moon will remain high, ornamenting the morning sky.  Dark skies for deep sky observers, sketchers and imagers is just around the corner! The picture of the last quarter Moon below was taken by Jim Failes.




Wed. Jan. 14 - Fleet Mercury is now at its greatest eastern elongation from the Sun. Still, it would be a challenge to see low in the western sky after nightfall if not for brilliant Venus just to its left. The picture of the elusive inner planet appearing below was taken by Jim Failes.




Thurs. Jan. 15 - Early tomorrow morning the waning Moon will be just north of the ringed planet Saturn which is starting its climb into the night sky.

Fri. Jan. 16 - A busy night in the skies as the waning crescent Moon passes just above Saturn in the wee hours.

Mon. Jan. 19 - There will be a close planetary conjunction tonight, but it will be a difficult one to observe. A very low western horizon may give you a peak at ruddy Mars less than half the width of the Moon below the distant blue planet Neptune in your telescope.

Tues. Jan. 20 - This is New Moon night when there will be no Moon at all to interfere with deep sky observing, sketching and imaging, the heart of the dark Moon period.

Wed. Jan. 21 - Tonight the very young fingernail pairing crescent of the Moon will provide a fingerpost to Mercury.  The Moon will be about the width of two middle fingers north of the elusive inner planet. Higher in the sky will be brilliant Venus. The beautiful picture of a thin crescent Moon and Mercury below was taken by Jim Failes.




Thurs. Jan. 22 - The celestial diplomat, the Moon, tonight cruises to the north of Mars early in the evening sky.

Fri. Jan. 23 - For telescope observers up for a spectacle, Jupiter and its family will perform an intricate dance this evening. The satellites Io, Europa and Callisto as well as their shadows will transit the banded disk of the gas giant from 10.28 to 10.52pm performing a rare triple shadow transit. Excellent illustrations of the stages of the event are on page 36 of the Jan./Feb. issue of Sky News. A picture of Jupiter and its retinue of satellites which was taken by Jim Failes appears below.




Mon. Jan. 26 - This is First Quarter Moon night when our symmetrical satellite poses high in the sky at nightfall to light the evening. The picture of the first quarter Moon below was taken by Jim Failes.




  - Tonight the Moon will pass a bit more than its width above the bright star Aldebaran in Taurus. Because of the orange giant star's proximity to the ecliptic track, it receives frequent visits from the Moon as well as the planets.