Astronomy

January Skies

Evening Planets:
Venus is up in the SW at Dusk. The planet should be easily visible about 45 minutes after Sunset. Venus is also gaining altitude each evening. Each evening, Venus is setting later and later. By the last week of January, Venus is setting about 3 hours after Sunset. This month is the start of Venus fine evening display. The planet will be in the evening sky for the rest of the Winter months and most of the Spring months. Due to the lack of bright evening planets, Venus basically has the evening sky to herself.
Mercury makes a poor showing in the SW during the last week of January. The planet is very low on the SW horizon and is to the far lower right of Venus. Mercury is barely up for 1 hour after Sunset and then it sets for the evening.

Morning Planets:
Mars rises in the SE before Dawn breaks. Each morning Mars gains a bit of altitude. The planet also gains a tad in brightness as the month progress. Mars is slowly moving by the bright star Antares. At Dawn, on the morning of the 17th and 18th of January; Mars will pass above the bright star Antares. By the end of the month, Mars is rising about 3 hours before Sunrise. Unlike Venus; we are going to have to wait several months before Mars puts on a fine display in the Autumn evening sky.
Jupiter shows up low on the SE horizon during the 3rd week of January. The planet quickly gains altitude each morning. By the end of the month, Jupiter is rising about 1.5 hrs. before Sunrise.

3-4 Jan Quadrantid Meteor Shower
7 Jan Moon upper left of bright star Aldebaran, Dusk
10 Jan Full Moon lower right of bright star Pollux, Evening
20 Jan Crescent Moon near Mars and bright star Antares, Dawn
27 Jan Crescent Moon lower left of Venus, Dusk
28 Jan Crescent Moon upper left of Venus, Dusk

Quadrantid Meteor Shower:
On the evening of 3 -4 January, the Quadrantid Meteor Shower will happen. This meteor shower sometimes goes by the nickname of “The Quads”. The evening showing of The Quads are mostly spoiled by the 1st Quarter Moon. The morning showing of The Quads is a far better situation. The 1st Quarter Moon should set after 1 am, leaving the rest of the morning sky Moon Free. The Quads are predicted to peak at 3 am on the morning of the 4th. If predictions come true then there should be about 60 meteors per hour visible at peak time. Most Quads meteors are faint and have a bluish color to them. The Quadrantid Meteor Shower is favorable for our viewing area.

Gary T. Nowak
Vermont Astronomical Society