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. Don’t forget to visit out sister group “AUK – Aurora UK” for reports on activity – there is a lot about at present.

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 01 – MOON/URANUS – The Moon and Uranus will make a close approach, passing within a mere 39.3 arcminutes of each other. The Moon will be 9 days old. From Scarborough however, the pair will be visible from soon after it rises, at 12:28, until soon before it sets at 03:44. The Moon will be at mag -12.4; and Uranus will be at mag 5.7. Both objects will lie in the constellation Aries. They will be a little too widely separated to fit comfortably within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible through a pair of binoculars.

January 03 – 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. This year the nearly full moon will block out most of the fainter meteors. But if you are patient you may still be able to catch a few good ones. 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 03 – MOON/MARS – The Moon and Mars will share the same right ascension, with the Moon passing 0°32′ to the south of Mars. The Moon will be 11 days old. At around the same time, the two objects will also make a close approach, technically called an appulse. From Scarborough however, the pair will be visible from soon after it rises, at 12:50, until soon before it sets at 06:15. The Moon will be at mag -12.5, and Mars at mag -1.1, both in the constellation Taurus. The pair will be a little too widely separated to fit comfortably within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

January 07 – FULL MOON – The Moon will reach full phase. At this time of the month, it is visible for much of the night, rising at around dusk and setting at around dawn. The sequence of full moons that fall through the year are sometimes assigned names such as the “Wolf Moon”, according to the months and seasons in which they fall. This practice has been popularised in recent decades by the Farmers’ Almanac in the United States. The names used by that almanac claim to have ancient origins from Native American tribes. This claim has been examined in detail by Patricia Haddock’s book Mysteries of the Moon (1992) and is partially true, but the selection of names is largely arbitrary. Throughout history a great variety of different names have been given to the sequence of lunar cycles through the year, and modern lists of such names, such as those popularised by the Farmers’ Almanac, tend to inevitably be a medley of names taken from many different cultures. According to the Venerable Bede’s De temporum ratione (The Reckoning of Time; 725 AD) – an authoritative account of the calendar used in Saxon England – the lunar month containing the first full moon after the December solstice (within winter) was called the “month after Yule (Æfterra Gēola)”. The biography of Charlemagne (circa 817–833 AD), written a few years after his death, gives a name of the “winter month (Wintar-mánód)” for the same lunar month. However, in the scheme followed by the Farmers’ Almanac, which has become rather widely quoted, any full moon in the month of January is called the “Wolf” Moon. Over the nights following 6 January, the Moon will rise around an hour later each day, becoming prominent later in the night. Within a few days, it will only be visible in the pre-dawn and early-morning sky. By the time it reaches last quarter, a week after full moon, it will rise in the middle of the night and set at around noon.

January 12 – COMET – Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) will make its closest approach to the Sun, at a distance of 1.11 AU. It is currently in Corona Borealis heading into Bootes by mid month then in Draco by 21st Jan, Ursa Minor 25th Jan and Camelopardalis by 29th Jan. From mid Jan onwards, it will be visible all night. Early January it will be visible from 0336am through to sunrise and for the first two weeks hitting a peak height around 0635am.

January 15 – MOON – The moon is at Last Quarter and it will be visible from soon after it rises, at 00:38, until soon before it sets at 11:13. 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.

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 22:30 and 01:24. It will become accessible around 22:30, when it rises to an altitude of 18° above your south-eastern horizon. It will reach its highest point in the sky at 23:57, 21° above your southern horizon. It will become inaccessible around 01:24 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 19 – 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 16:00 GMT on 19 January 2023, and so the best displays might be seen after dusk on 19 January. At its peak, the shower is expected to produce a nominal rate of around 3 meteors per hour (ZHR). However, this zenithal hourly rate is calculated assuming a perfectly dark sky and that the radiant of the shower is situated directly overhead. In practice, any real observing sight will fall short of these ideal conditions. The number of meteors you are likely to see is thus lower than this, and can be estimated using the ZHR formula. From Scarborough, the radiant of the shower will appear at a peak altitude of 77° above your horizon, and on the basis of this, we estimate that you may be able to see up to 2 meteors per hour at the shower’s peak. The shower will peak close to new moon, and so moonlight will present minimal interference. The radiant of the γ-Ursae Minorid meteor shower is at around right ascension 15h10m, declination 66°N.

January 20 – MOON/MERCURY – The Moon and Mercury will share the same right ascension, with the Moon passing 6°56′ to the south of Mercury. The Moon will be 28 days old. From Scarborough however, the pair will be visible from soon after it rises, at 06:38, until soon before it sets at 14:36. Always take extreme caution when trying to make daytime observations of the Moon while the Sun is above the horizon. The Moon will be at mag -9.3, and Mercury at mag 0.2, both in the constellation Sagittarius. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope or pair of binoculars, but will be visible to the naked eye. Mercury will reach its highest point in the sky in its Jan–Feb 2023 morning apparition. It will be shining brightly at mag -0.2. From Scarborough, this apparition will not be one of the most prominent and very difficult to observe, reaching a peak altitude of 9° above the horizon at sunrise

January 21 – 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 20:55 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 22 – VENUS/SATURN – Venus and Saturn will share the same right ascension, with Venus passing 0°21′ to the south of Saturn. 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 16:45 (GMT), 11° above your south-western horizon, as dusk fades to darkness. They will then sink towards the horizon, setting 2 hours and 4 minutes after the Sun at 18:23. Venus will be at mag -3.9, and Saturn at mag 0.7, both in the constellation Capricornus. The pair will be close enough to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will also be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

January 23 – MOON/SATURN – The Moon and Saturn will share the same right ascension, with the Moon passing 3°49′ to the south of Saturn. The Moon will be 2 days old. From Scarborough however, the pair will be visible from soon after it rises, at 09:00, until soon before it sets at 18:19. Always take extreme caution when trying to make daytime observations of the Moon while the Sun is above the horizon. The Moon will be at mag -9.2, and Saturn at mag 0.7, 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 26 – MOON/JUPITER – The Moon and Jupiter will share the same right ascension, with the Moon passing 1°48′ to the south of Jupiter. The Moon will be 5 days old. At around the same time, the two objects will also make a close approach, technically called an appulse. From Scarborough however, the pair will be visible from soon after it rises, at 09:49, until soon before it sets at 22:05. The Moon will be at mag -11.2, and Jupiter at mag -2.2, both in the constellation Pisces. 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 28 – MOON – The moon is at first quarter, 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 29 – MOON/URANUS – The Moon and Uranus will make a close approach, passing within a mere 52.8 arcminutes of each other. The Moon will be 8 days old. From Scarborough however, the pair will be visible from soon after it rises, at 10:38, until soon before it sets at 01:53. The Moon will be at mag -12.0; and Uranus will be at mag 5.7. Both objects will lie in the constellation Aries. They will be a little too widely separated to fit comfortably within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible through a pair of binoculars.

January 29 – MERCURY – The planet Mercury reaches greatest western elongation of 25 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 morning sky. Look for the planet low in the eastern sky just before sunrise.

January 31 – MOON/MARS – The Moon and Mars will share the same right ascension, with the Moon passing 0°06′ to the south of Mars. The Moon will be 10 days old. At around the same time, the two objects will also make a close approach, technically called an appulse. From Scarborough however, the pair will be visible from soon after it rises, at 11:05, until soon before it sets at 04:33. The Moon will be at mag -12.3, and Mars at mag -0.3, both in the constellation Taurus. The pair will be close enough to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will also be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

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 18:01 (GMT), 16° above your eastern horizon, as dusk fades to darkness. It will then reach its highest point in the sky at 00:02, 55° above your southern horizon. It will continue to be observable until around 05:59, 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 and various online astronomy calendars + own input

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