Steve’s Place

Photography and Astrophotography

Astro Calendar

Events of interest for January ….

January – Many thanks again for all your contributions to the group. Don’t ever forget, there is no such thing as a daft question in here. Aurora season has begun again with some pretty big M class flares only recently so don’t forget to visit out sister group “AUK – Aurora UK”. Do keep an eye open for Comet C/2019 L3 (Atlas), Comet 19P/Borelly, Comet 104P/Kowal and Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko which are currently an evening object. I have managed to capture two of these already but there is no tail associated with either just yet. Sadly, comet C/2021 A1 Leonard is not visible at all from the UK this month. This is also a good month for Comets and meteor showers.

There are a few changes in this months “What’s Up” and I am trying to research as much upcoming activity as possible. There will be more postings on upcoming Deep Sky Objects (DSO’s) which are best placed for viewing. This is in part due to my own observatory now being functional and remoted and this also provides me some steerage on upcoming events.

January 02 – NEW MOON – The Moon will located on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky. This phase occurs at 18:35 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.

January 03/04 – METEORS – The Quadrantids is an above average shower, with up to 40 meteors per hour at its peak. It is thought to be produced by dust grains left behind by an extinct comet known as 2003 EH1, which was discovered in 2003. The shower runs annually from January 1-5. It peaks this year on the night of the 3rd and morning of the 4th. The thin, crescent moon will set early in the evening leaving dark skies for what should be an excellent show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Bootes, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

January 04 – MOON/SATURN – The Moon (5% lit) and Saturn will share the same right ascension, with the Moon passing 4°11′ to the south of Saturn. The Moon will be 2 days old. From Scarborough, the pair will become visible around 16:18 (GMT), 13° above your south-western horizon, as dusk fades to darkness. They will then sink towards the horizon, setting 2 hours and 26 minutes after the Sun at 18:30. The Moon will be at mag -9.7, and Saturn at mag 0.6, both in the constellation Capricornus. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

January 06 – MOON/JUPITER – The Moon (20% lit)and Jupiter will share the same right ascension, with the Moon passing 4°27′ to the south of Jupiter. The Moon will be 4 days old. At around the same time, the two objects will also make a close approach, technically called an appulse. From Scarborough, the pair will become visible around 16:20 (GMT), 22° above your southern horizon, as dusk fades to darkness. They will then sink towards the horizon, setting at 20:07. The Moon will be at mag -10.7, and Jupiter at mag -2.1, both in the constellation Aquarius. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

January 07 – MERCURY – The planet Mercury reaches greatest eastern elongation of 19.2 degrees from the Sun. This is the best time to view Mercury since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the evening sky. Look for the planet low in the western sky just after sunset.

January 09 – MOON – The Moon will pass first quarter phase, appearing prominent in the evening sky and setting in the middle of the night. From Scarborough , it will become visible around 16:24 (GMT), 36° above your south-eastern horizon, as dusk fades to darkness. It will then reach its highest point in the sky at 18:00, 40° above your southern horizon. It will continue to be observable until around 23:29, when it sinks below 7° above your western horizon. At this time in its monthly cycle of phases, it appears almost exactly half illuminated. The Moon orbits the Earth once every four weeks, causing its phases to cycle through new moon, first quarter, full moon, last quarter, and back to new moon once every 29.5 days. As it progresses through this cycle, it is visible at different times of day. At first quarter, it appears high in the sky at sunset before sinking towards the horizon and setting in the middle of the night.

January 09-31 – COMET – Comet 104P/Kowal will make its closest approach to the Sun, at a distance of 1.07 AU. From Scarborough the 2021–2022 apparition of 104P/Kowal will progress as follows:
12 Jan 2022 – 104P/Kowal at perihelion. Highest at 17:36, 33° above S horizon visible until 20:27 in the constellation of Cetus
19 Jan 2022 – 104P/Kowal reaches its brightest. Highest at 17:48, 36° above S horizon visible until 20:49 in the constellation of Cetus
31 Jan 2022 – 104P/Kowal Visible from 18:07, 40° above S horizon until 21:27 in the constellation of Cetus

January 13 – MERCURY – As seen from Scarborough , Mercury will reach its highest point in the sky in its Dec 2021–Jan 2022 evening apparition. It will be shining brightly at mag -0.6. From Scarborough, this apparition will not be one of the most prominent and very difficult to observe, reaching a peak altitude of 10° above the horizon at sunset on 11 Jan 2022.

January 15 – STAR CLUSTER – The open star cluster M47 (NGC 2422; mag 4.5) in Puppis will be well placed, high in the sky. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of 14°28’S, it is easiest to see from the southern hemisphere; it can be seen at latitudes between 55°N and 84°S. From Scarborough, it will be visible between 22:29 and 01:23. It will become accessible around 22:29, when it rises to an altitude of 18° above your south-eastern horizon. It will reach its highest point in the sky at 23:56, 21° above your southern horizon. It will become inaccessible around 01:23 when it sinks below 18° above your southern horizon. At magnitude 4.4, M47 is tricky to make out with the naked eye except from a dark site, but is visible through a pair of binoculars or small telescope.

January 15 – GALAXY – NGC 2403 (mag 8.9), a spiral galaxy in Camelopardalis will be well placed, high in the sky. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of 65°36’N, it is easiest to see from the northern hemisphere but cannot be seen from latitudes much south of 4°S. From Scarborough, it will be very well placed – it will be close enough to the north celestial pole that it will be high above the horizon all night. At magnitude 8.9, NGC2403 is quite faint, and certainly not visible to the naked eye, but can be viewed through a pair of binoculars or small telescope.

January 17 – FULL MOON – The Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be will be fully illuminated. This phase occurs at 23:51 UTC. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Wolf Moon because this was the time of year when hungry wolf packs howled outside their camps. This moon has also been know as the Old Moon and the Moon After Yule.

January 15-25 – METEORS – The γ-Ursae Minorid meteor shower will be active from 15 January to 25 January, producing its peak rate of meteors around 19 January. Over this period, there will be a chance of seeing γ-Ursae Minorid meteors whenever the shower’s radiant point – in the constellation Ursa Minor – is above the horizon, with the number of visible meteors increasing the higher the radiant point is in the sky. From Scarborough the radiant point is circumpolar, which means it is always above the horizon and the shower will be active throughout the night. The radiant point culminates (is highest in the sky) after dawn – at around 07:00 GMT – and so the shower is likely produce its best displays shortly before dawn, when its radiant point is highest. At this time, the Earth’s rotation turns Scarborough to face optimally towards the direction of the incoming meteors, maximising the number that rain vertically downwards, producing short trails close to the radiant point. At other times, there will be fewer meteors burning up over Scarborough, but those that do will tend to enter the atmosphere at an oblique angle, producing long-lived meteors that may traverse a wide area of the sky before completely burning up. The shower is expected to reach peak activity at around 10:00 GMT on 19 January 2022, and so the best displays might be seen before dawn on 19 January and after dusk on 19 January. To see the most meteors, the best place to look is not directly at the radiant itself, but at any dark patch of sky which is around 30–40° away from it. It is at around this distance from the radiant that the most meteors will be seen. By determining the position of this radiant point on the sky, it is possible to work out the orbit of the stream giving rise to any particular meteor shower. It is sometimes even be possible to identify the particular body responsible for creating the debris stream, if there is a known comet or asteroid with a very similar orbit. The radiant of the γ-Ursae Minorid meteor shower is at around right ascension 15h10m, declination 66°N.

January 20 – COMET – Comet 19P/Borrelly is forecast to reach its brightest. It will lie at a distance of 1.32 AU from the Sun, and at a distance of 1.23 AU from the Earth. Visible from 17:48 until 19:48 and Highest at 17:48, 31° above S horizon in the constellation of Cetus. This comet is visible from 07 Jan through till February moving from south to south west (into Pisces)

January 25 – MOON – The Moon will pass last quarter phase, rising in the middle of the night and appearing prominent in the pre-dawn sky. From Scarborough, it will be visible in the morning sky, becoming accessible around 02:04, when it reaches an altitude of 7° above your south-eastern horizon. It will then reach its highest point in the sky at 05:58, 24° above your southern horizon. It will be lost to dawn twilight around 07:34, 21° above your south-western horizon. At this time in its monthly cycle of phases, it appears almost exactly half illuminated. The Moon orbits the Earth once every four weeks, causing its phases to cycle through new moon, first quarter, full moon, last quarter, and back to new moon once every 29.5 days. As it progresses through this cycle, it is visible at different times of day. At last quarter, it rises in the middle of the night and appears high in the sky by dawn. It sets at around lunchtime.

January 31 – STAR CLUSTER – The Beehive open star cluster (M44, NGC 2632, also known as Praesepe; mag 3.7) will be well placed, high in the sky. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of 19°40’N, it is easiest to see from the northern hemisphere; it can be seen at latitudes between 89°N and 50°S. From Scarborough, it will be visible in the evening sky, becoming accessible around 18:02 (GMT), 16° above your eastern horizon, as dusk fades to darkness. It will then reach its highest point in the sky at 23:57, 55° above your southern horizon. It will continue to be observable until around 05:54, when it sinks below 16° above your western horizon. At magnitude 3.1, M44 is tricky to make out with the naked eye except from a dark site, but is visible through a pair of binoculars or small telescope.

Observations and imaging now being conducted at the Muston Observatory (MOBS) near Filey, North Yorks
Muston Observatory – https://www.facebook.com/groups/mustonobs

Don’t forget our sister group with near real time aurora alerts ….
AUK – Aurora UK – https://www.facebook.com/groups/AuroraUK/

Note: Times are marked BST those without BST are UTC (ie an hour less)
Thanks to: in-the-sky.org, Sky at Night and various online astronomy calendars + own input

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