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TOPIC: January 2009


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RE: January 2009
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The most brilliant of all the constellations dominates our evening sky this week, climbing well up in the south around 9 p.m. local time.  It is, of course, Orion, the Hunter.  But just exactly who was he?  
As is also the case with the mighty Hercules, the figure of Orion has been associated in virtually all-ancient cultures with great national heroes, warriors, or demigods.  Yet, in contrast to Hercules, who was credited with a detailed series of exploits, Orion seems to us a vague and shadowy figure.
The ancient mythological stories of Orion are so many and so confused that it is almost impossible to choose among all of them.  Even the origin of the name Orion is obscure, though some scholars have suggested a connection with the Greek "Arion," meaning simply warrior.

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The planet Venus is close to the moon tonight.

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The last conjunction of Moon and bright planets in 2008 featured a young crescent Moon and brilliant Venus in the west after sunset on December 31st. Seen here in dark, clear, mountain air from Mönichkirchen, Austria, are the two celestial beacons that dominate planet Earth's night sky. That pair was hard to miss, but skygazers watching lower along the western horizon in early twilight might also have glimpsed a pairing of Jupiter and Mercury as they both wandered closer to the Sun in the sky at year's end. Still, while this single, 5 second long exposure seriously overexposes the Moon's sunlit crescent, it does capture another planet not visible to the unaided eye. The tiny pinprick of light just above the photographer's head in the picture is the distant planet Neptune.
Credit & Copyright: Tamas Ladanyi (TWAN)

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Venus burns like a lamp now. The planet comes into view, almost halfway up the southwest sky, at sunset or even earlier. But this week, its mighty luster gets some fitting company - a crescent moon.
Winter's third moon-Venus meeting: Tonight, you'll need an unobstructed view down to very low in the west-southwest in order to catch a glimpse of an amazingly slender sliver of moon. Be sure to look no later than about 6 p.m. Venus will shine incredibly far above this horizon-hugging moon.

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Partial solar eclipse
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A group of residents on the Indonesian island of Sumatra have witnessed a rare solar eclipse.
The phenomenon is known as an annular eclipse, where the moon passes directly in front of the sun without covering it completely.
Seen from the earth, the sun appears as a very bright ring of fire, or annulus, which surrounding the outline of the moon.


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RE: January 2009
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See Venus and comet Lulin effortlessly
One may see the Venus closer to the Sun because of its greatest elongation three hours after sunset these days. To view it, just go outside after dark, face south, and take a deep look. The Venus can be seen quiet bright and distinct.
There is going to be another rare astronomical event next month as comet Lulin is moving closer to earth and will be visible to the unaided eye.

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If you have any curiosity about what's going on "up there" tonight, I have good news, especially for those of you who aren't night owls. The constellation Orion (pronounced Oh-RYE-uhn, not OR-ree-uhn) has been advancing from the east, appearing higher and higher, night after night, for weeks until it is now in good viewing position in the southern sky around nine o'clock. Just face south and look up.

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TOP 10 NIGHT SKY EVENTS FOR 2009: January
The year 2009 marks the International Year of Astronomy -- when people around the world celebrate the 400th anniversary of Galileo's first use of the telescope.
From Saturn hiding its enormous rings to grand meteor showers to the longest total eclipse of the sun in the 21st century, you can bet on an exciting year in the night sky.

10. Saturn's Invisible Rings - January
Saturn's rings are now tipped at their minimum angle -- nearly edge-on -- this month.
Because you won't see them this razor thin for another 30 years, now is a great time to not see the rings of Saturn.
The gas giant can be seen with unaided eyes, but you'll need a telescope to view the rings.

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Orion dominates winter night sky
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Astronomer Robert H. Baker (1880-1962) once wrote of the Great Hunter or Celestial Warrior, Orion, that he shines "like a gigantic piece of celestial jewelry through the frosty winter air."
Indeed, Orion is by far the most brilliant of the constellations and is visible from every inhabited part of the Earth. As darkness descends, he clearly dominates the southeast sky. Three bright stars in line in the middle of a bright rectangle decorate Orion's belt, which point northward to the clusters of the Hyades and Pleiades of Taurus, and southward to the Dog Star Sirius. 




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