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Urban Observing for January 2013 January 1, 2013

Posted by aquillam in Astronomy.
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Jupiter remains the gem of the evening skies this month. Look for it high in the southeast around 9 PM. Its close proximity to the Pleiades and Hyades make it a nice naked eye object, or aim a small ‘scope at it to watch the moons.

Saturn shines in the morning skies. Look for it in the east an hour before dawn.

Earth reaches perihelion (the point in the orbit closest to the Sun) a little after midnight on January 2. You should still bundle up if you go out star gazing though.

The Quadrantid meteor shower peaks on the evening of January 4. Usually the best time to observe a meteor shower is after midnight, but the last quarter Moon rises around 1:30, so midnight to 1 AM should be the best time this year. There’s a map, and a bit of history at http://meteorshowersonline.com/quadrantids.html or lots of detailed information about observing it at http://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/everything-you-need-to-know-quadrantid-meteor-shower 

The Full Moon is on Jan. 27 at 4:38 AM EST. If you like observing the Moon, the the two weeks before that is a good time.

English: Petavius Crater captured with a teles...

English: Petavius Crater captured with a telescope Español: El cráter Petavius visto a través de un telescopio. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On January 14, the terminator crosses Mare Crisium. The fractured terrain around the Mare should look it’s best under the long shadows of dawn. Scan down to the south to Crater Petavius, cut by Rimae Petavius. Look for this on the 14, since you need the long shadows to see it clearly. Try again on Jan. 28 when you can catch it in the lunar dusk, though this isn’t as good as catching it in the dawn light.

At 6 PM on January 1, Mars is just above the SW horizon. This is still twilight, so binoculars or a small ‘scope are a must. Jupiter is 35º up due east. The waning gibbous Moon rises around 10 pm, Saturn a little after 3 AM, and Venus at around 6:30 AM.

On Jan 6, The waning crescent Moon is less than 10º from Saturn in the pre-dawn sky

On Jan 12, a very young Moon is less than 10º from Mars in the evening twilight. Binoculars or a small ‘scope are needed, and it won’t be an easy catch.

On Jan 13, A young waxing crescent Moon is almost 10º above Mars at 6 PM. The Moon should be visible naked eye, but binoculars or a small ‘scope are needed for Mars.

On Jan 21, the waxing gibbous moon is less than 2º from Jupiter. Look high in the SE at 7 PM.

Good objects to observe on January evenings with a small telescope:

An hour after sunset (around 7 – 7:30 PM) the summer triangle is setting in the west. The head of the swan, Albireo, is a nice yellow-blue binary for small ‘scopes in the WNW. Epsilon Lyrae is also easier to spot since it’s right above Vega at this time, but it is very low.

Perseus constellation map

Perseus constellation map (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If your skies are dark enough, this is one of the best times to look for the Andromeda Galaxy, since it is high overhead an hour after sunset in January. While you’re in that area, look for the double cluster in Perseus, up near the boarder with Cassiopeia.

Rising in the east are the winter constellations. Look first for the Pleiades and Hyades in Taurus. A little later in the evening, look for the beehive cluster, M44. The best nights for deep sky objects will be the first two weeks of the month, and after then full Moon.

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[…] Urban Observing for January 2013 (aquillam.wordpress.com) […]


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