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

The following tips on 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.

Sun. Jan. 1 – There will be an interesting grouping in the evening sky tonight. The crescent Moon will appear just below brilliant Venus, while just above, Mars will be only a moon width from Neptune.

Mon. Jan. 2 – The waxing crescent Moon has now moved just below Mars in the evening sky, joining Venus in an attractive celestial pattern.

Mon. Jan. 2 - The Quadrantid meteor shower peaks early tomorrow morning, and we get a break since the crescent Moon will be out of the way as the radiant climbs higher in the sky overnight. The Quadrantid stream is a generous one with frequencies that can reach up to 120 meteors per hour. The shower emanates from the constellation Bootes which rises higher into the eastern sky after midnight.

Wed. Jan. 4 – Despite the weather we can take cold consolation from the fact that today the Earth is at perihelion, the point in its orbit when it is closest to the Sun.

Thurs. Jan. 5 – This is First Quarter Moon night, an opportunity to enjoy the symmetry of the half lit disk as well as the parade of side lit craters and other formations along the terminator.

Sun. Jan. 8 – Mercury and Saturn appear fairly close to each other low in the pre-dawn eastern sky. The separation is just a bit more than three finger widths.

Mon. Jan. 9 – The waxing gibbous Moon will pass about its width north of bright Aldebaran tonight.

Tues. Jan. 10 – For those still in quest of seeing one of ‘The Devil Star’s ‘blinks’,  Algol will reach its minimum brightness in the time centered between 5.19pm and 7.19pm tonight. Compare its brightness with neighbouring stars in Perseus around 6pm and then do this again later in the evening to see the difference in brightness.

Thurs. Jan 12 – This is Full Moon night, and our fully illuminated companion is joined by another celestial attraction. Tonight brilliant Venus will pass less than the width of the Moon from blue Neptune, offering an opportunity to locate the ice giant on easy terms. Also tonight Venus reaches greatest eastern elongation in the evening sky.

Sat. Jan. 14 – The restless Moon, now in its waning gibbous phase, appears only two of its widths from Regulus in Leo, one of the stellar beacons of spring.

Wed. Jan. 18 – The waning gibbous Moon will be only the width of two fingers north of Jupiter tonight.

Thurs. Jan. 19 – This is Last Quarter Moon night with the reverse half lit orange rising over the eastern Okanagan mountains around midnight and remaining high in the sky the following morning. Excitement is building as the next dark moon period approaches.

Fri. Jan. 20 – The banded giant planet Jupiter will be in the vicinity of Spica in Virgo in the late night sky tonight.

Tues. Jan. 24 – Before dawn this morning, the waning crescent Moon sidles up to within the width of two fingers from Saturn which is climbing higher into the morning sky.

Wed. Jan. 25 – Early this morning the very narrow crescent of the Moon will pose less than the width of three fingers above elusive Mercury just above the horizon. A great opportunity to snag an observation of the innermost planet.

Fri. Jan. 27 – This is New Moon night with our companion well out of the way to allow deep sky observing, sketching and imaging… given clear skies of course.

Mon. Jan. 30 – Another opportunity to find Neptune in the night sky occurs tonight when the waxing crescent Moon passes less than half its width from the blue ice giant.

Tues. Jan. 31 -  Interesting celestial conjunctions are fascinating to view as well as photograph. Tonight a close grouping of Mars, Venus and a thin crescent Moon will provide just such a delight. Our neighbouring planets will gather only about the width of three fingers apart while the nearby fingernail pairing crescent Moon will be complemented by the rest of the disk being illuminated by Earthshine. A great show in binoculars!