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What's Up...
Some observing hilights
to look forward to...

The following tips on current and upcoming astronomical events
have been gathered from magazines and other sources by Dave Gamble
with the objective of giving OC RASC members a heads-up on
special personal
astro-experiences to look forward to.

Tues. Jan 1 – If it is a clear night, all night revelers will have the extra treat of seeing the waning crescent Moon posed near brilliant Venus just above the southeast mountains before dawn this morning.

Wed. Jan. 2 – Temperatures may be on the cold side right now, but we can take some consolation from the fact that today the Earth is at perihelion, the point in its orbit when it is closest to the Sun. The exact time of closest distance will be at 9pm tonight.

Wed. Jan. 2 - The Quadrantid meteor shower will peak early tomorrow morning. The Quadrantid stream is a generous one with frequencies that can reach up to 120 meteors per hour, and this year the waning crescent Moon will not be able to interfere. The shower emanates from the constellation Bootes which rises higher into the eastern sky after midnight.

Thurs. Jan 3 – Before dawn this morning the thin fingernail paring crescent Moon will be seen just north of the gas giant Jupiter which has now entered the morning sky after passing behind the Sun. The separation will only be about the width of two fingers.

Sat. Jan. 5 – This is New Moon night with our neighbour completely out of the way and incapable of interfering with deep sky observing, imaging and sketching. Now we just need some help from the weatherman.

Sat. Jan. 5 – The early morning sky will be dominated again by brilliant Venus. Our inner solar system companion has reached its greatest western elongation from the Sun.

Thurs. Jan. 10 – The thin crescent Moon will provide a fingerpost to the ice giant Neptune this evening. Look for the tiny blue disk about the width of two fingers north of the crescent.

Sat. Jan. 12 – Our lunar neighbour will pay a call on Mars this evening. The waxing crescent Moon will be about the width of three fingers below the ruddy planet.

Mon. Jan. 14 – This is First Quarter Moon night. The neatly divided sphere will be poised high in the evening sky to give added luster to an Okanagan winter’s evening. For those who would like to dive in a bit further, the small pale green disk of Uranus will be seen about the width of three fingers above Luna.

Tues. Jan. 15 – In the early morning hours bright Venus will be seen above the red supergiant star Antares in Scorpius, low in the southeastern sky. As you view the star it may be interesting to contemplate that the light has been travelling to your eye for about 550 years, carrying photons from a star so large that its surface, if placed in the solar system, would extend out to between Mars and Jupiter.

Thurs. Jan. 17 – The waxing gibbous Moon will be just east of bright Aldebaran in Taurus to brighten this evening’s sky.

Sun. Jan. 20 – This is a Full Moon night with a special difference. Tonight a total lunar eclipse will take place, with mid totality conveniently taking place at 9.16pm our time. The event will begin at 6.37pm when the limb of the Moon will first touch Earth’s penumbral shadow. It will become easier to notice that something special is happening an hour later when the limb reaches the full umbral shadow, and it will be exciting to see the partial lunar eclipse advance toward totality at 8.42pm which will last until 9.44pm when the recessional phases will unfold.

Tues. Jan. 22 – The two brightest planets will cozy up in the early morning sky. Given clear skies it will make it worthwhile to wake up early to see Venus and Jupiter less than two finger widths apart very low in the southeastern sky.

Sun. Jan. 27 – This is Last Quarter Moon night with the half lit sphere rising around midnight to brighten the early morning hours. It will stick around to provide a beautiful addition to late winter Okanagan scenes the following morning.

Wed. Jan. 30 – The waning crescent Moon will pay a visit to Jupiter in the pre-dawn sky. The giant planet will be only about the width of two fingers to the south of our neighbour.

Thurs. Jan. 31 – The narrowing lunar crescent will continue its planetary tour in the early morning hours, passing very close to brilliant Venus.