January 2020 will begin the year with a potential strong meteor shower if you’re in the right location. The winter skies reign over the cold nights, but nothing beats being outside with that cool, crisp air!
First Quarter Moon: January 3
Full Moon (Wolf Moon): January 10
Last Quarter Moon: January 17
New Moon: January 24
This is one of the more recognizable constellations, as it is easily identified by the two bright stars Castor and Pollux. The rest of the constellation can be traced with the rest of the stars to form two “stick figure brothers” with one arm around the other, a “bro hug” if you will. It’s positioned low in the east at sunset, and high in the sky around midnight.
Any Notable Celestial Events?
Quadrantids Meteor Shower – January 3,4
This shower is supposed to favor North American viewers, particularly the East Coast. As the First Quarter Moon will set around midnight, the optimal hours will have no moon interference. If you are outside during the short peak, you can be treated to 120 meteors per hour! But if you are not in the right location at the right time, the shower won’t reach those levels. Overall Rating: Check it out if you can! A separate article will be published to remind you about it, so that says something!
Earth at Perihelion
Remember that Earth does not orbit a perfect circle, in fact the shape is like an oval, with a closest point and further point. On January 4, Earth will be at perihelion, or her closest to the Sun for the year. Even though Earth is closer, our northern hemisphere is pointed away from the Sun, hence it gets less direct sunlight and shorter days.
Venus Neptune Conjunction – January 27
Over North America, Venus and Neptune will be anywhere between 10-15 arc minutes (‘) apart, and be easily visible at the same time through a telescope. While Venus will be super bright, Neptune will be rather dim, and it will be wise to consult a star chart to help you find Neptune if it doesn’t appear that easily. Rating: This will be an impressive conjunction for a telescope, and showcase two planets of extreme difference in distances.
Can You Just Tell Me Where the Planets Are Visible?
Mercury: It’ll be lost in the Sun’s glare for the first half of the month, and will gradually move away from it during the last couple of weeks. It will be better viewed in the southwestern sky at dusk at the end of January.
Venus: Will be an easy bright target in the southwestern skies after dark. As it gradually moves away from the Sun, it’ll begin the month in front of Capricornus, and move through Aquarius. By the end, it’ll be straddling the border between Pisces and Aquarius.
Earth: You’re standing on it…
Mars: Will be an early morning target in the southeast. It will gradually shift from Libra to Scorpius.
Jupiter: In the constellation Sagittarius, It will be lost in the Sun’s glare for the majority of the month, but towards the end of the month, it will become an early morning target in the southeastern sky
Saturn: Same as Jupiter, it’ll be lost in the Sun’s glare for the majority of January while it remains in front of Sagittarius.
Uranus: In the constellation Aries, it will be a great telescope target in the southern sky after dark, setting in the west around midnight.
Neptune: It will be in the constellation Aquarius, and be low in the southwestern sky. It won’t be visible for very long, setting around 8 pm. Just like Uranus, you must have a telescope to catch it!
TL;DR – Meteor shower on January 3,4. Venus/Neptune Conjunction January 27. The “Good Planets” won’t be visible in the evening skies until Summer!
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