Wednesday, January 4, 2012

January 2012

Happy New Year, everyone! Here’s to a wonderful new year full of great skywatching.
The year kicks off with a full moon on the 9th and a new moon by the 23rd.
If you want to try sunspotting, big spot 1389 is still harboring m class energy, but it’s just now starting to decay.
So far as meteors go, the year began with the Quadrantids meteor shower in the wee hours of the morning on the 4th. They originated around the constellation Bootes and towards Polaris in the north, but actually originated from Comet 2003 EH1. NASA estimated a show of 60-200 per hour, but the average was about 100 spotted per hour.
If you plan on going to the southern hemisphere sometime this month, try to catch of glimpse of comet Lovejoy. It is putting on a fantastic display. This is the same comet that made a death-defying pass around the sun and survived.
For constellations, Orion is by far the easiest one to see in the northern hemisphere at this time. You can gaze at a super red giant or young, hot, blue stars. Best of all is the great Orion nebula. This is one of our galaxy’s best stellar nurseries. New stars are being born there every day. At 1500 light years away, it is the only nebula you can see with the naked eye.
If you are in to planet hunting, try to catch Jupiter in conjunction with the moon in the constellation Pisces. Mars will also be visible as it rises just before midnight, and the Venus will be visible just after the sun in Capricorn.
If you have any questions about these subjects or any other subjects in astronomy, be sure to visit the planetarium on the third Tuesday of every month from 7:00-8:30pm for the Astronomy Series.

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