I was about to go home when I caught a glimpse of Venus and the thin Moon hanging close together in the western sky at dusk last January 26.
I didn’t have a camera with me then. Fortunately, a friend of mine had his camera and let me use it to take a few images of this stunning sight.
Venus is now shining brilliantly in the west-southwest after sunset at magnitude -4.0. It will be climbing higher in our sky over the next three months as it comes closer to us in its orbit. Over that time the planet will brighten but its phase will shrink as the Sun shifts to the other side of Venus from us.
By February 2012, Venus will climb up higher into the evening sky and will stay out even longer after dark. It’ll be at its highest above the sunset in March 2012, when Jupiter and Venus will stage an amazing conjunction in the western twilight sky. These two bright planets will lie about three degrees apart in the West in the constellation Aries. Venus will beam at magnitude -4.3, and Jupiter is a worthy companion at magnitude -2.1. The pairing will make for a lovely photo op. 🙂
On March 25, Venus, Jupiter and the thin crescent Moon will form a straight line in the western sky.
Clear skies! 🙂
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.