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Big Dipper

January 2014 Celestial Calendar c/o Dave Mitsky

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January 2014 Celestial Calendar & Observing Notes c/o Dave Mitsky
(calendar data also reproduced in our forum calendar).

All times unless otherwise noted are UT.

1/1 New Moon (lunation 1126) occurs at 11:14; Pluto is in conjunction with the Sun at 19:00; the Moon is at perigee, subtending 33 arc minutes from a distance of 356,923 kilometers (221,781 miles), at 20:59;
1/2 Venus is 2 degrees south of the Moon at 12:00
1/3 Mars is at aphelion at 0:00; the peak of the Quadrantid meteor shower (40 to 120 or more per hour) occurs at 20:00
1/4 The latest sunrise of 2014 at latitude 40 degrees north occurs today; the Earth is at perihelion (147,104,781 kilometers or 91,406,673 miles distant from the Sun) at 12:00
1/5 Neptune is 5 degrees south of the Moon at 2:00; Jupiter (magnitude -2.7, apparent size 46.8") is at opposition at 21:00
1/7 The latest onset of morning twilight of 2014 at latitude 40 degrees north occurs today; Uranus is 3 degrees south of the Moon at 13:00
1/8 First Quarter Moon occurs at 3:39; asteroid 2 Pallas is stationary at 9:00; the Lunar X (the Purbach or Werner Cross), an X-shaped illumination effect involving various rims and ridges between the craters La Caille, Blanchinus, and Purbach, is predicted to begin at 15:59
1/11 Mercury is at its greatest heliocentric latitude south today; Venus is in inferior conjunction at 12:00
1/15 Jupiter is 5 degrees north of the Moon at 6:00
1/16 The Moon is at apogee, subtending 29 arc minutes from a distance of 406,532 kilometers (252,607 miles), at 1:53; Full Moon (known as the Ice Moon, the Moon After Yule, the Old Moon, and the Wolf Moon), the smallest of the year, occurs at 4:52
1/23 Mars is 4 degrees north of the Moon at 6:00; the Walther Sunset Lunar Ray is predicted to begin at 9:41; the moon is 1.3 degrees north of the first-magnitude star Spica (Alpha Virginis) at 10:00
1/24 Venus is at perihelion today; Last Quarter Moon occurs at 5:19; the Curtiss Cross, an X-shaped illumination effect located between the craters Parry and Gambart, is predicted to begin at 17:28
1/25 Saturn is 0.6 degree north of the Moon, with an occultation visible from part of Antarctica, the far southern portion of South America, New Zealand, and French Polynesia, at 14:00
1/28 Asteroid 18 Melpomene (magnitude 9.3) is at opposition at 8:00; Mars is 5 degrees north of Spica at 20:00
1/29 Venus is 2 degrees north of the Moon at 3:00
1/30 Mercury is at the ascending node today; the Moon is at perigee, subtending 33 arc minutes from a distance of 357,080 kilometers (221,879 miles), at 9:59; New Moon (lunation 1127) occurs at 21:38
1/31 Mercury is at greatest eastern elongation (18.4 degrees) at 10:00; Venus is stationary at 19:00

Johannes Hevelius (1611-1687) was born this month.

Galileo Galilei discovered Io, Europa, and Callisto on January 7, 1610. He discovered Ganymede on January 13, 1610. William Herschel discovered Titania and Oberon, two satellites of Uranus, on January 11, 1787. Giuseppe Piazzi discovered the first asteroid, 1 Ceres, on January 1, 1801.

The Quadrantid meteor shower peaks on the morning of January 3rd. The Moon won’t interfere this year but the short-lived peak of the shower favors observers in eastern Asia. This shower can sometimes reach zenithal hourly rates of more than 100 meteors per hour. The radiant of the Quadrantids lies at the junction of the constellations of Boötes, Hercules, and Draco, in what was once called Quadrans Muralis. The near-Earth asteroid 2003 EH1, which may be an extinct comet, is believed to be the source of these meteors. Browse http://meteorshowersonline.com/quadrantids.html and http://www.imo.net/calendar/2014#qua for more on the Quadrantids.

Information on Iridium flares and passes of the ISS, the Tiangong-1, the USAF’s X-37B, the HST, and other satellites can be found at http://www.heavens-above.com/

The Moon is 29.0 days old and is located in Aquarius on January 1st at 0:00 UT. Two New Moons occur this month. Large tides will occur on January 1st through January 4th and on January 30th and January 31st. The Moon is at its greatest declination north of +19.5 degrees on January 13th and its greatest declination south of -19.4 degrees on January 27th. Longitudinal libration is at a maximum of +7.8 degrees on January 7th and a minimum of -7.8 degrees on January 24th. Latitudinal libration is at a maximum of +6.6 degrees on January 16th and a minimum of -6.6 degrees on both January 3rd and January 30th. Visit http://saberdoesthestars.wordpress.com/2011/07/05/saber-does-the-stars/ for tips on spotting extreme crescent Moons. Times and dates for the lunar light rays predicted to occur this month are available at http://www.lunar-occultations.com/rlo/rays/rays.htm

The Sun is located in Sagittarius on January 1st.

Data (magnitude, apparent size, illumination, and distance from the Earth in astronomical units) for the planets and Pluto on January 1: Mercury (-1.3, 4.7", 100%, 1.43 a.u., Sagittarius), Venus (-4.4, 59.6", 4%, 0.28 a.u., Sagittarius), Mars (+0.8, 6.9", 90%, 1.36 a.u., Virgo), Jupiter (-2.7, 46.8", 100%, 4.21 a.u., Gemini), Saturn (+0.6, 15.9", 100%, 10.48 a.u., Libra), Uranus (+5.9, 3.5", 100%, 20.30 a.u. on January 16, Pisces), Neptune (+8.0, 2.2", 100%, 30.75 a.u. on January 16, Aquarius), and Pluto (+14.2, 0.1", 100% , 33.53 a.u. on January 16, Sagittarius).

During the evening, Mercury lies in the west, Venus in the southwest, Jupiter in the east, and Uranus and Neptune in the southwest. At midnight, Mars is the east and Jupiter in the southwest. Venus can be seen in the southeast, Mars and Saturn in the south, and Jupiter is in the northwest in the morning.

Mercury returns to the evening sky by mid-month, beginning one of its two best evening apparitions of the year for mid-northern latitude observers. An extremely-thin waning crescent Moon is located five degrees north of the planet on January 31st. The tiny planet reaches a greatest eastern elongation of 18 degrees on the final day of January. At that time, Mercury is 56% illuminated, shines at magnitude -0.7, and attains an altitude of 11 degrees in the west-southwestern sky one half-hour after the Sun sets.

Venus shines brighter than magnitude -4.0 throughout January. It is illuminated just 3% and spans a full arc minute in angular size at sunset on January 1st. Five days later, Venus is a mere 4 degrees above the horizon 30 minutes before sunset. It spans 62 arc seconds and is only 1% lit. The planet’s evening apparition ends when it reaches inferior conjunction on January 11th, one synodic period after the transit of June 2012. Venus is located five degrees north of the Sun at that time. The brightest planet then enters the morning sky, becoming visible again on January 18th. Venus is at perihelion on January 24. By the end of the month, Venus shrinks 10 arc seconds in apparent size but widens to a 12% illuminated crescent while shining at magnitude -4.8. Both Venus and Jupiter are at their closest to the Earth this month.

Earth is 0.983 astronomical units distant from the Sun at perihelion on January 4th. On that date, it’s about 3% (5.0 million kilometers or 3.1 million miles) closer to the Sun than at aphelion.

Mars grows to almost nine arc seconds in angular size and brightens to magnitude +0.3 by the end of the month. It is at both aphelion (249.3 million kilometers or 154.9 million miles from the Sun) and western quadrature on January 2nd. Mars can be found 1.4 degrees southeast of the third-magnitude binary star Porrima (Gamma Virginis) on the morning of January 1st and four degrees north of the Moon on the morning of January 23rd. The Red Planet’s eastward motion places it five degrees north of the first-magnitude star Spica by January 31st.

Jupiter reaches opposition on January 5th. On that date, the largest planet subtends nearly 47 arc seconds, is 35 light minutes from the Earth, and is visible for the entire night. Click on http://freestarcharts.com/index.php/19-news-and-current-events/230-jupiter-re... for further information. During January, Jupiter’s disk shrinks in size by 1.1 arc seconds. The waxing gibbous Moon passes five degrees south of Jupiter on January 15th. Galilean satellite shadow transit events that are favorable for North American observers take place on the evenings of January 8th (Europa), January 13th (Io), and January 27th (Io). Browse http://skyandtelescope.com/observing/objects/planets/article_107_1.asp in order to determine transit times of Jupiter’s central meridian by the Great Red Spot. Data on the Galilean satellites is available at http://skytonight.com/observing/objects/javascript/3307071.html#

At midmonth, Saturn’s rings are inclined 22 degrees with respect to the Earth. The northern side of Saturn’s rings is visible this year. The planet’s disk subtends 16 arc seconds and its rings span 37 arc seconds. (The extent of Saturn’s rings is 2.27 times its equatorial diameter.) Saturn is nearly occulted by the Moon for mid-northern hemisphere observers on the morning of January 25th. For information on the satellites of Saturn, browse http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/objects/javascript/3308506.html

Uranus sets at approximately 10:00 p.m. local time by month’s end. The seventh planet lies about six degrees southwest of the fourth-magnitude star Delta Piscium in southern Pisces this month.

Neptune is located 3.4 degrees south-southeast of the fourth-magnitude star Theta Aquarii on January 4th. It lies within five arc minutes of a slightly brighter field star from January 10th to January 15th. Neptune is situated four degrees east of Mercury on January 31st.

Finder charts for Uranus and Neptune can be found at http://media.skyandtelescope.com/documents/Uranus-Neptune-2013.pdf and on page 50 of the October issue of Sky & Telescope. See http://www.curtrenz.com/uranep.html for additional information on the two outer planets.

The dwarf planet Pluto is in conjunction with the Sun on January 1st.

For more on the planets and how to locate them, browse http://www.nakedeyeplanets.com/

Asteroid 7 Iris shines at tenth magnitude as it travels northeastward through Pisces this month. It passes through the southern portion of the Circlet of Pisces asterism from the 14th through the 21st. Iris is just south of the fifth-magnitude star Kappa Piscium on January 14th and north of the fourth-magnitude star Lambda Piscium on January 20th. On January 23rd, the asteroid is one degree south of the orange-colored carbon star TX Piscium (19 Piscium). Asteroid 18 Melpomene (magnitude 9.3) reaches opposition on January 28th. Click on http://britastro.org/computing/ch/18_Melpomene_2013Dec28Feb28.html for a finder chart. Browse http://britastro.org/computing/charts_asteroid.html and http://asteroidoccultation.com/2014_01_si.htm respectively for information on asteroid oppositions and occultations taking place this month.

Comet C/2013 R1 (Lovejoy) dims to eighth magnitude as it heads southeastward into Ophiuchus. Surf http://freestarcharts.com/index.php/19-news-and-current-events/231-comet-love... for a finder chart. Visit http://cometchasing.skyhound.com/ and http://www.curtrenz.com/comets for information on comets visible this month and in the near future.

A wealth of current information on solar system celestial bodies is posted at http://www.curtrenz.com/astronomical

Browse http://astrocast.tv/ for an informative video on astronomical events taking place this month.

Free star maps for January can be downloaded at http://www.skymaps.com/downloads.html and http://www.telescope.com/content.jsp?pageName=Monthly-Star-Chart

The famous eclipsing variable star Algol (Beta Persei) is at a minimum, decreasing in magnitude from 2.1 to 3.4, on January 3rd, 6th, 8th, 11th, 14th, 17th, 20th, 23rd, 26th, 28th and 31st. Consult http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/objects/variablestars/Minima_of_Algo... for the times of the eclipses. For more on Algol, see http://stars.astro.illinois.edu/sow/Algol.html and http://www.solstation.com/stars2/algol3.htm

One hundred and five binary and multiple stars for January: Omega Aurigae, 5 Aurigae, Struve 644, 14 Aurigae, Struve 698, Struve 718, 26 Aurigae, Struve 764, Struve 796, Struve 811, Theta Aurigae (Auriga); Struve 485, 1 Camelopardalis, Struve 587, Beta Camelopardalis, 11 & 12 Camelopardalis, Struve 638, Struve 677, 29 Camelopardalis, Struve 780 (Camelopardalis); h3628, Struve 560, Struve 570, Struve 571, Struve 576, 55 Eridani, Struve 596, Struve 631, Struve 636, 66 Eridani, Struve 649 (Eridanus); Kappa Leporis, South 473, South 476, h3750, h3752, h3759, Beta Leporis, Alpha Leporis, h3780, Lallande 1, h3788, Gamma Leporis (Lepus); Struve 627, Struve 630, Struve 652, Phi Orionis, Otto Struve 517, Beta Orionis (Rigel), Struve 664, Tau Orionis, Burnham 189, h697, Struve 701, Eta Orionis, h2268, 31 Orionis, 33 Orionis, Delta Orionis (Mintaka), Struve 734, Struve 747, Lambda Orionis, Theta-1 Orionis (the Trapezium), Theta-2 Orionis, Iota Orionis, Struve 750, Struve 754, Sigma Orionis, Zeta Orionis (Alnitak), Struve 790, 52 Orionis, Struve 816, 59 Orionis, 60 Orionis (Orion); Struve 476, Espin 878, Struve 521, Struve 533, 56 Persei, Struve 552, 57 Persei (Perseus); Struve 479, Otto Struve 70, Struve 495, Otto Struve 72, Struve 510, 47 Tauri, Struve 517, Struve 523, Phi Tauri, Burnham 87, Xi Tauri, 62 Tauri, Kappa & 67 Tauri, Struve 548, Otto Struve 84, Struve 562, 88 Tauri, Struve 572, Tau Tauri, Struve 598, Struve 623, Struve 645, Struve 670, Struve 674, Struve 680, 111 Tauri, 114 Tauri, 118 Tauri, Struve 730, Struve 742, 133 Tauri (Taurus)

Notable carbon star for January: R Leporis (Hind’s Crimson Star)

Seventy deep-sky objects for January: B26-28, B29, M36, M37, M38, NGC 1664, NGC 1778, NGC 1857, NGC 1893, NGC 1907, NGC 1931 (Auriga); IC 361, Kemble 1 (Kemble’s Cascade asterism), NGC 1501, NGC 1502, NGC 1530, NGC 1569 (Camelopardalis); NGC 1507, NGC 1518, NGC 1531, NGC 1532, NGC 1535, NGC 1537, NGC 1600, NGC 1637, NGC 1659, NGC 1700 (Eridanus); IC 418, M79, NGC 1832, NGC 1888, NGC 1964 (Lepus); B33, Cr65, Cr69, Cr70, IC 434, M42, M43, M78, NGC 1662, NGC 1973-75-77, NGC 1981, NGC 1999, NGC 2022, NGC 2023, NGC 2024, NGC 2112 (Orion); Be11, NGC 1491, NGC 1496, NGC 1499, NGC 1513, NGC 1528, NGC 1545, NGC 1548, NGC 1579, NGC 1582, NGC 1605, NGC 1624 (Perseus); DoDz3, DoDz4, M1, Mel 25, NGC 1514, NGC 1587, NGC 1647, NGC 1746, NGC 1807, NGC 1817 (Taurus)

Top ten binocular deep-sky objects for January: Cr65, Kemble 1, M36, M37, M38, M42, NGC 1528, NGC 1647, NGC 1746, NGC 1981

Top ten deep-sky objects for January: M1, M36, M37, M38, M42, M43, M78, M79, NGC 1501, NGC 2024

Challenge deep-sky object for January: IC 2118 (Eridanus)

The objects listed above are located between 4:00 and 6:00 hours of right ascension.

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