New Delhi: New Year, new Moon, midnight meteors, and Mars’ rises are some of the exciting astronomical events awaiting us in January. The first week of January is ideal for stargazing because the month begins with a new Moon on the 2nd, and the few days before and after the new Moon are the darkest. As a result, the stars and other cosmic objects may be clearly visible in the night sky.
On the following dates, one can see different cosmic phenomena.
First Week Of January
At around 8 to 9 pm PST (9:30 to 10:30 am IST), the bright stars of the Winter Circle, along with the Pleiades and Orion will appear to embezzle the night sky when one looks southward during the first week of January. There will be no bright moonlight to interfere with the faintest stars.
January 2 and 3
On the night of January 2, and the morning of January 3, the Quadrantid meteor showers peaked. Considered one of the best meteor showers of the year, the bright meteors are often called fireballs. Since the peak coincided with the new Moon this year, the conditions for viewing the showers were ideal.
The Quadrantid meteor showers are visibe toward the northeast. The constellation Boötes includes the bright star Arcturus, and the meteor showers appear to radiate from the constellation. Boötes rises above the local horizon after midnight, which is the best time to view the astronomical event, NASA said on its website.
The asteroid 2003 EH1, which may be an extinct comet, is thought to be the source of the Quadrantids. After midnight on January 3, one may see some shooting stars.
Some astronomical events can be witnessed at dusk and dawn. On January 5, one can observe the crescent Moon in a close pairing with brilliant Jupiter by looking southward after sunset. Both the Moon and Jupiter can be visualised using binoculars, as they will be only about four degrees apart.
Mars and Venus will return to the morning sky in January. Early morning on January 29, the Moon will be visible near the Red Planet. In the southeastern sky, Venus will join the pair. Since Venus is now rising before the Sun, it is called the “Morning Star”.
Mars is slowly returning to view after passing behind the Sun over the past few months, according to NASA. When the planet is directly opposite the Sun, communication between the spacecraft and the space agency is halted for about two weeks every two years. This event is called the solar conjunction, and it took place in October.
Over the months, Mars will continue to brighten and climb higher in the sky. It will also have super-close conjunctions with Saturn and Jupiter.
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