Happy New Year! What a wonderfully crisp, clear, and chilly New Year it is, too! You know why we love the cooler, clearer weather? Better sky watching! Here are some of the things you can keep an eye out for this month.
Tonight marks the beginning of the Quadrantids meteor shower! One of the smaller meteor showers of the year, it should prove to be a reasonably good show with no moonlight to get in the way, weather permitting. It radiates from Comet 2003 EH1. You should be able to see about 40 meteoroids per hour in the early morning hours, so set your alarm clocks extra early tonight!
Catch a peek at Jupiter as it follows the Sun into the western horizon by just a few hours. You will be able to see it for most of the month just after sunset.
You can still find Saturn in the constellation Virgo this month. It is still fairly close to Spica. Venus is in the process of moving into the constellation Virgo now. It rises just ahead of the sun, so you will really have to go out in the wee hours of the morning to spot it this time!
Mars, Mercury, and Pluto are close to the Sun. They may be difficult to see, but hey, at least you will know where to look!
There will be a new moon on January 4th, and a full moon on the 19th.
A partial solar eclipse is also occurring today, but regrettably, we cannot see it from this part of the northern hemisphere.
If it is just general star gazing you are after, see if you can spot the great square of Pegasus, Andromeda, Gemini, Taurus (and the Pleiades!), and the Orion wheel high overhead.
Well, folks, that is it for this month. It is not very much to ring in the New Year, but it is going to be a wonderful year for sky watching nonetheless. Bundle up, stay safe, and happy hunting!
For more information or for tips on star gazing, call 229-432-6955.