Skywatching Highlights: January 2012
Well-known constellations like the ones in the Winter Hexagon – Gemini, Orion, Canis Major, Canis Minor, Auriga and Taurus – can be easily seen during the longer hours of darkness in the Northern hemisphere this month.
Most of the events listed here can be readily observed with the naked eye, but some objects such as the planets and some star clusters are best seen through binoculars or a small telescope.
All of the times and dates found here are in Philippine Standard Time (PHT) unless otherwise indicated. Note that PHT = UT+8.
Clear skies and happy skygazing! 🙂
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This month’s highlights:
- The Quadrantid Meteor Shower
- Planetary conjunctions with the Moon
|Jan. 1||First Quarter Moon||2:15 PM|
|Jan. 2||Moon-Jupiter close pairing (~7° apart)|
|Jan. 3||Moon at apogee||4:00 AM||farthest distance to Earth|
|Jan. 3-4||Peak of the Quadrantid Meteor Shower||3:23 AM||Quadrantid Shower: ZHR = 120|
|Jan. 5||Earth at perihelion (0.9833 AU)||8:00 AM||closest distance to the Sun|
|Jan. 5||Moon near the Pleiades (3.1° N)|
|Jan. 9||Full Moon||3:30 PM|
|Jan. 16||Last Quarter Moon||5:08 AM|
|Jan. 16||Moon near the star Spica (2° N)|
|Jan. 17||Saturn 6° north of the Moon||3:00 AM|
|Jan. 18||Moon at perigee||5:00 AM||nearest distance to Earth|
|Jan. 23||New Moon||3:39 PM|
|Jan. 25||Neptune 6° south of the Moon||8:00 PM|
|Jan. 27||Moon-Venus close pairing||dusk||Venus 7° south of the Moon|
|Jan. 30||First Quarter Moon||3:39 PM|
|Jan. 30||Moon-Jupiter close pairing|
|Jan. 31||Moon at apogee||2:00 AM||farthest distance to Earth|
January 2: Moon-Jupiter Conjunction
An eventful sky year begins with brilliant Jupiter high up on the Aries-Pisces border at nightfall. On January 2, Jupiter will be about 7 degrees away from the 61% full moon in the constellation Pisces.
January 3-4: Quadrantid Meteor Shower
This should be a fine year for one of the best, but least observed, annual meteor showers like the Quadrantids. The Quadrantids are an above average shower, with up to 40 meteors per hour at their peak. This meteor shower should be most active in the early morning hours of Wednesday the 4th, but some meteors can be visible from January 1 – 5. The Moon sets around 3 AM local time then, leaving the sky dark until the first light of dawn around 6 AM. Look for meteors radiating from the constellation Bootes.