#astronomy This Week’s Sky at a Look, January 10 – 18

January 10, 2020 - Comment

  Venus is now larger than Fomalhaut in late twilight, relying in your latitude. These scenes are at all times drawn for a skywatcher at 40°N. A lot south of there, Fomalhaut shall be larger. The complete Moon tonight shines by the heads 0of the Gemini twins. Friday, Jan. 10 • Full Moon (precise at


Venus and Fomalhaut at dusk, Jan. 10, 2020

Venus is now larger than Fomalhaut in late twilight, relying in your latitude. These scenes are at all times drawn for a skywatcher at 40°N. A lot south of there, Fomalhaut shall be larger.

Full Moon in Gemini, Jan 10, 2020

The complete Moon tonight shines by the heads 0of the Gemini twins.

Friday, Jan. 10

• Full Moon (precise at 2:21 p.m. EST). This night spot Pollux and Castor to the Moon’s higher left, as proven beneath. Procyon shines farther to the Moon’s decrease proper.

Penumbral eclipse of the Moon for Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia, because the Moon skims by way of the pale outer fringe of Earth’s shadow. The eclipse is fairly deep as penumbral ones go: the Moon’s edge misses the shadow’s darkish umbra by solely about 10% of the Moon’s diameter. Due to this fact the shading shall be fairly apparent across the occasion’s mid-time, 19:10 January 10th UT (GMT). The shading shall be on the Moon’s southern aspect. Full particulars. Dwell video stream (begins at 17:00 UT).

Saturday, Jan. 11

• Right here it’s the coldest very backside of the yr, however the Summer season Star, Vega, nonetheless hangs in there. Search for it twinkling within the northwest throughout and shortly after dusk. The farther north you’re the larger it will likely be. For those who’re north of latitude 51° (Calgary, central Ontario and Quebec, London, Berlin), Vega is definitely circumpolar. However if you happen to’re too far south, it is already gone.

Sunday, Jan. 12

• The waning gibbous Moon rises within the east about an hour after darkish. Because it climbs, watch beneath it for Regulus to creep up in its wake. For North America they’re about 6° or 7° aside.

Monday, Jan. 13

Dimmed Betelgeuse. The pink supergiant Betelgeuse marking Orion’s shoulder has at all times been barely variable, however recently it has been in an unusually low dip: As of January ninth it was round visible magnitude +1.four as a substitute of its extra typical +zero.5. That is really fainter than Aldebaran, with which it is typically in contrast, magnitude +zero.9. The place do you choose it? See Bob King’s What’s Up With Betelgeuse?

And no, this doesn’t imply Betelgeuse is about to go supernova, regardless of the overinflated hype going round (associates and kinfolk hold asking me). Sure, it is nearing the top of its life — however on an astronomical timescale! Anticipate to attend one thing like 100,000 years.

Tuesday, Jan. 14

• Sirius twinkles brightly after dinnertime beneath Orion within the southeast. Round eight or 9 p.m., relying in your location, Sirius shines exactly beneath fiery Betelgeuse in Orion’s shoulder. How precisely are you able to time this occasion on your location, maybe utilizing the vertical fringe of a constructing? Of the 2, Sirius leads early within the night; Betelgeuse leads later.

Wednesday, Jan. 15

• With the Moon gone from the early-evening sky, discover the celebs and asterisms across the dim base of Orion’s Membership — together with little NGC 2169, the “37 Cluster” — utilizing Matt Wedel’s Binocular Spotlight map and column within the January Sky & Telescope, web page 43.

With a telescope, tour Jerry Oltion’s choice of winter’s large, shiny and beautifuls beginning on web page 58, and discover the depths of Auriga with Deep-Sky Wonders beginning on web page 54.

Bought a giant scope and a really darkish sky? Go deep-fishing within the Pisces Galaxy Cloud — 230 million light-years deep — beginning on web page 58.

Thursday, Jan. 16

• Zero-magnitude Capella, very excessive within the east after dinnertime, and zero-magnitude Rigel, in Orion’s foot, have virtually the identical proper ascension. This implies they cross your sky’s meridian at virtually precisely the identical time: round 9 or 10 p.m. now, relying on how far east or west you reside in your time zone. (Capella goes precisely by way of your zenith if you happen to’re at latitude 46°N: Portland, Oregon; Montreal; central France.) So at any time when Capella passes highest, Rigel at all times marks true south over your panorama, and vice versa.

• Algol shines at its minimal brightness, magnitude three.four as a substitute of its standard 2.1, for about two hours centered on 10:36 p.m. EST. Algol takes a number of extra hours to fade beforehand and to rebrighten after. At any random time you look up at Algol, you’ve solely a 1-in-30 probability of catching it at the least 1 magnitude fainter than regular. So here is your alternative. Comparability-star chart.

Friday, Jan. 17

• Final-quarter Moon (precise at 7:58 a.m. on this date). By the point it rises tonight round 1 a.m., it should have waned barely previous precise final quarter. It will be on the dim ft of Virgo then, with Spica to its higher proper and shiny Arcturus larger to its higher left.

Saturday, Jan. 18

• Is your sky darkish sufficient so that you can see the winter Milky Manner? In mid-evening now it runs vertically up and throughout the zenith: from Canis Main low within the southeast, up between Orion and Gemini, by way of Auriga and Perseus virtually straight overhead, and down by way of Cassiopeia, Cepheus, and Cygnus to the northwest horizon.


Wish to change into a greater astronomer? Study your manner across the constellations. They’re the important thing to finding all the things fainter and deeper to hunt with binoculars or a telescope.

That is an out of doors nature passion, chilly or not! For an easy-to-use constellation information overlaying the entire night sky, use the massive month-to-month map within the middle of every challenge of Sky & Telescope, the important information to astronomy.

Jumbo Pocket Sky Atlas cover

The Pocket Sky Atlas plots 30,796 stars to magnitude 7.6, and lots of of telescopic galaxies, star clusters, and nebulae amongst them. Proven above is the Jumbo Version for simpler studying within the evening. Pattern chart.

When you get a telescope, to place it to good use you will want an in depth, large-scale sky atlas (set of charts). The essential customary is the Pocket Sky Atlas (in both the unique or Jumbo Version), which exhibits stars to magnitude 7.6.

Subsequent up is the bigger and deeper Sky Atlas 2000.zero, plotting stars to magnitude eight.5; almost thrice as many. The subsequent up, as soon as you recognize your manner round, are the even bigger Interstellarum atlas (stars to magnitude 9.5) and Uranometria 2000.zero (stars to magnitude 9.75). And browse tips on how to use sky charts with a telescope.

You will additionally desire a good deep-sky guidebook, similar to Sue French’s Deep-Sky Wonders assortment (which incorporates its personal charts), Sky Atlas 2000.zero Companion by Sturdy and Sinnott, or the larger Evening Sky Observer’s Information by Kepple and Sanner.

Can a computerized telescope substitute charts? Not for freshmen, I do not assume, and never on mounts and tripods which are lower than top-quality mechanically (that means heavy and costly). And as Terence Dickinson and Alan Dyer say of their Yard Astronomer’s Information, “A full appreciation of the universe can’t come with out creating the abilities to seek out issues within the sky and understanding how the sky works. This data comes solely by spending time beneath the celebs with star maps in hand.”

This Week’s Planet Roundup

Mercury is out of sight within the glare of the Solar.

Venus (magnitude –four.zero, between Capricornus and Aquarius) dominates the southwest throughout and after twilight. It is going to shine because the grand “Night Star” at nightfall all winter and into the spring. In a telescope Venus nonetheless seems small (14 arcseconds) and gibbous (78% sunlit), however it should enlarge in dimension and wane in section for the subsequent four months.

Mars (magnitude +1.6, passing the pinnacle of Scorpius) glows within the southeast earlier than and through early daybreak, not very excessive. It is a very tiny four arcseconds in diameter.

Under or decrease proper of it twinkles Mars-colored Antares, which at magnitude 1.1 is noticeably brighter than Mars now (not counting the results of atmospheric extinction).

Jupiter is buried deep within the glow of dawn.

Saturn is out of sight at the side of the Solar.

Uranus (magnitude 5.eight, in southern Aries) and Neptune (magnitude 7.9, in jap Aquarius) stand excessive within the south and far decrease within the southwest, respectively, proper after darkish. Use our finder charts for Uranus and Neptune.

All descriptions that relate to your horizon — together with the phrases up, down, proper, and left — are written for the world’s mid-northern latitudes. Descriptions that additionally rely on longitude (primarily Moon positions) are for North America.

Japanese Customary Time (EST) is Common Time (UT, UTC, GMT, or Z time) minus 5 hours.

Audio sky tour. Out beneath the night sky along with your earbuds in place, hearken to Kelly Beatty’s month-to-month podcast tour of the heavens above. It is free.

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