January 2022 Dark Skies Blog

3'd: Peak of Quadrantid  meteor shower (figure 1):  Between 12th  December and 12th  January. Best displays before dawn. Between 60 and 200 meteors, per hour might be visible in constellation Bootes (figure 2). Parent body, asteroid 2003 EH1 and comet C/1490 Yl.

Figure 1.

Figure 2.

6th: Conjunction and close approach of Moon and Jupiter (figure 3). Visible, 16:50 (GMT), above Southern horizon, as darkness descends, setting approximately 20:30. The Moon will be 373847 km from Earth and Jupiter 842.7 million km from Earth.

Figure 3.

7th: Mercury at greatest elongation East (figure 4/5). Reaching greatest separation from the Sun in its December 2021, January 2022 evening apparition. It will be shining brightly. It will not be one of the most prominent and will be difficult to observe, reaching peak altitude of 11° above the horizon at Sunset on 10th  January. It will be 146.45 million km from Earth.

Figure 4.

Figure 5: Diagram shows various possible elongations (e), each of which is the angular distance between a planet and the Sun from Earth's perspective.

9th: Moon at 1st  quarter (figure 6). Visible, 16:50 (GMT), above South East, as darkness falls. Reach highest point at 18:15, above South. Observable until 23:48, when it disappears above the west. It will appear half illuminated. It will be 390092 km from Earth.

Figure 6.

17th: Full Moon (figure 7). At this time of the month, it is visible most of the night, rising at approximately dusk and setting near dawn. Distance, 397535 km from Earth. Called Wolf moon because wolfs were more likely heard howling at this time.

Figure 7.

19th: Gamma (y) Ursae Minorid meteor shower (figure 8/9). Active 15th  to 25th, producing maximum meteors on the 19th, in constellation  Ursa Minor. Possibility of seeing 2 meteors per hour at 10:00 (GMT).

Figure 8. Gamma Ursae Minorids

Figure 9.

25th: Moon at last quarter (figure 10). Visible in morning sky, from 02:10, above South East. Reaching highest point at 06:15, above Southern horizon. Lost to dawn twilight approximately 07:40, above Southern horizon. It will appear half illuminated. At a distance of 373737 km from Earth.

Figure 10.

29th: Conjunction and close approach of Moon and Mars (figure 11). Visible at dawn, in constellation Sagittarius (figure 12), appearing at 06:10 (GMT), above the South East, disappearing approximately 07:40. Mars will be 326.5 million km from Earth and the Moon 362326 km distant.

Figure 11.

Figure 12.

31st: Beehive open cluster (M44, NGC 2632, also called Praesepe (figure 13). Visible from 18:20 (GMT) in constellation Cancer (figure 14), above the East. Reaching highest point at 00:18, above Southern horizon. Observable until 06:10, disappearing in the West. Difficult to see with the unaided eye except from a dark site, however, visible through binoculars or small telescope. It is 577.4 light years from Earth.

Figure 13.

Figure 14.

WARNING: Never attempt to view through binoculars, telescope or any optical aid an object near to
the Sun. Also, never attempt to view the Sun, aided or unaided, doing so may result in immediate
and permanent blindness. Always use astronomical approved viewing equipment.

The Stellarium software will assist greatly in locating objects in the sky.

Mark R Smith FRAS FRi

Nuclear Fusion Physics & Astrophysics