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TOPIC: January 2009


L

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RE: January 2009
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It's January, so it may be cold where you are.  It's sure cold here.  But lets make an effort to step away from the television and the daily concerns of life, brave the cold, and get out under the bright winter stars to see some fine sights.
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A cold front is likely to cover Taiwan for the rest of the holiday before making way for rain, the Central Weather Bureau said Friday, while a meteor shower could brighten up the sky.
Chiayi recorded 8.9 degrees centigrade Friday morning, or the coldest temperature recorded since the beginning of the winter. The mercury fell to 10.7 degrees in Hsinchu and to 10.9 in Tamshui, the bureau said.

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The Quadrantids, one of the major meteor showers seen on Earth, are expected to have their maximum number of meteors shooting across the early morning sky at 12:40 Universal Time (UT) on Saturday January 3, 2009.

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A "leap second" will be added onto official clocks around the world at midnight to account for the Earth's slowing spin on its axis.
London's Big Ben, whose bongs bring in the new year across the UK, will have its Great Clock adjusted.

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Temperatures are set to dip well below freezing as revellers take to the streets of Scotland to celebrate Hogmanay, it has been warned.
Lows of -5C are expected in Edinburgh, where crowds of up to 100,000 will gather to see in the bells.

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Early in the evening on New Years Day, Venus is joined by the crescent Moon and by Jupiter and Mercury, which are in a close conjunction. The best time to catch the show is about 16.45, half an hour after sunset, when they will both be due southwest. If you have trouble finding them, draw a line from the Moon through Venus and down to the horizon; Mercury and Jupiter lie on this line, only 7 degrees above the horizon. Mercury reaches greatest eastern elongation on the 4th, and remains visible for much of the first fortnight of 2009 before conjunction on the 20th. Jupiter also vanishes quickly, reaching its conjunction (when it lies on the opposite side of the Sun to the Earth) on the 24th. Mars is also absent, but the fifth naked-eye planet, Saturn, is now well placed, moving through the stars of Leo. It is now rising well before midnight, at about 20.30 by the end of the month.

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Watch for one of the best meteor showers of the year the night of Jan. 3-4, the Quadrantid Meteor Shower. Look to the north in the predawn sky and with clear weather you should see a "shooting star" about every two minutes.

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Venus and Jupiter, the two brightest planets, spent all of December 2008 blazing away in the western sunset sky. At the start of December the two planets were side by side. Then, day by day throughout December, they drifted apart.
Now, Venus blazes high and alone in the western sky at dusk. Venus will remain a beacon in our western sunset sky throughout January, shining brighter than any other dot of light in the sky.

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On New Years eve, the moon will hang very close to the bright planet Venus. Venus is also a great telescope target. As Galileo first observed 400 years ago, Venus undergoes phases just like the moon. In your telescope eyepiece, Venus will appear a little more than half sunlit in late December. Look for Venus to appear near the crescent moon on the evening of January 29 and 30 and on February 27.

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The New Year starts with Mercury and Jupiter very bright and low in the Western sky at Sundown. Venus, also very bright, is high above this pair. Each night it gets higher and brighter. Later in the month, Saturn will rise in the East and be higher in the sky at dawn.
On New Year's day (at night), Venus will be a handspread below the crescent Moon. Venus is the second brightest celestial object (the Moon is first) in the night sky, so it'll be easy to spot. For the next week and a half at about a half hour after Sunset, look just above the south-western horizon.

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