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Post Info TOPIC: January 2012


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RE: January 2012
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January nights filled with frosty delights

Maybe you've noticed the big, bright "star" shining high in the southeast after sunset. That's Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system.
Jupiter will remain well-placed for evening viewing throughout January. Tonight, it reaches its highest point in the sky at about 7:45 p.m.; by mid-month it's around 6:40 p.m. and by the end of the month it's about 5:50 p.m.

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Tuesday night best viewing for Quadrantids meteor shower

One of 2012's most-active meteor shower peaks Tuesday night into early Wednesday, with an estimated 40-100 meteors per hour.
The peak lasts only for a few hours and comes near midnight Tuesday MST. The best viewing may come a few hours later when the moon sets. Sporadic meteors may be seen a few days before and after the peak.

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What's Up in January

January is named after the Roman god Janus, who faces forward and backward at the same time. There are several interesting highlights that will be well worth seeing during this first month of the new year.
We will be treated to an excellent meteor shower, potentially the best one of the whole year; two comets, one of which was not expected to survive its perilous dive through the devilishly hot solar corona; and two bright planets in the evening sky at dusk.

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Mercury: at magnitude -0.4, starts the month in the constellation of Ophiuchus. Mercury is at aphelion (distance to sun: 0.4667 AU) at 5.35 UT, 18th January.
(On January 1st, RA=17h17m07s  Dec=-22°11.7' (J2000) Distance=1.187AU  Elongation= 20°   Phase k=80%  Diameter=5.7")

Venus: is at magnitude -4.0. The planet is in constellation Capricornus at the start of the month. It is best seen from 10.7h - 18.6h. The Moon is close to Venus at 12.15 UT, 26th January.
(On January 1st, RA=21h08m54s  Dec=-18°19.2' (J2000) Distance=1.290AU  Elongation= 34°   Phase k=82%  Diameter=12.9")

 phase.gif


Earth: The Earth-Moon system is at Perihelion (closest to the sun) at 2:51.7 UT, 4th January, 2012.

The Moon: First Quarter Moon (declination: 8.37°) at 6:14.6 UT, 1st January. Full Moon (diameter: 30.900', declination: 19.25°) at 7:30.1 UT, 9th January. Lunar apogee (distance to moon center: 398240.7 km, apparent diameter: 30'00.4") at 20:16.5 UT, 2nd January. Last Quarter Moon (declination: -13.48°) at 9:07.9 UT, 16th January. Lunar perigee (distance to moon center: 363474.9 km, apparent diameter: 32'52.6") at 21:16.4 UT, 17th January, 2012.
New Moon (diameter: 31.420') at 7:39.3 UT, 23rd January, 2012.

Mars: at magnitude 0.2 starts the month in the constellation Leo.  The planet is stationary: Getting Retrograde, at 0:37 UT, 25th January, 2012.
(On January 1st, RA=11h28m31s  Dec= +6°37.4' (J2000) Distance=1.031AU  Elongation=111°   Phase k=91%  Diameter=9.1")

Jupiter: is in the constellation Pisces. At magnitude -2.6, the planet is best seen from 22.2h - 8.4h.
Transit times of the Great Red Spot are posted in a seprate thread. 
Jupiter's satellite positions are posted in this thread.
(On January 1st, RA= 1h54m25s  Dec=+10°25.0' (J2000) Distance=4.553AU  Elongation=110°   Diameter=43.2")

Saturn: at magnitude 0.7 sits in the constellation Virgo. The planet is best seen from 2.2h - 8.4h.
(
On January 1st, RA=13h47m59s  Dec= -8°32.7' (J2000) Distance=9.955AU  Elongation= 72°   Diameter=16.6")

Uranus: is in the constellation Pisces. Uranus at magnitude 5.9, has a bluish-green hue and appears 3.5 arcseconds wide. Uranus was stationary on the 10th December.
(On January 1st, RA= 0h03m40s  Dec= -0°23.4' (J2000) Distance=20.221AU  Elongation= 80°   Diameter=3.5")

Neptune: is at magnitude 7.9 in the constellation Aquarius. The planet is best seen from 17.5h - 18.0h. Neptune was Stationary on the 9th November, 2011.
(
On December 1st, RA=22h01m53s Dec=-12°38.9' (J2000) Distance=30.174AU Elongation= 79° Diameter=2.2")

Pluto: is in the constellation Sagittarius (mag 14.1). Normally, a finder chart is necessary to help in identifying the 0.1" diameter dwarf planet. The dwarf planet is best seen from 17.7h - 6.7h.
(On January1st, RA=18h30m23s  Dec=-19°20.0' (J2000) Distance=33.134AU  Elongation=  5°   Diameter=0.1")

The Sun enters the zodiac sign of Aquarius at 16:10 UT on the 20th January.



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January Highlights

The Beehive Cluster
Otherwise known as M44. This is an open cluster and is a wonderful object for binoculars or a small telescope. It contains nearly 200 stars. At a magnitude of 3.7, the cluster should be visible to the naked eye as a fuzzy patch of light, and as such was known to the ancients and actually included in some of their myths. Hipparchus in 130 BC called it "the little cloud". Its true nature was never revealed until 1610 when Galileo became the first person to ever see it through a telescope.
Using your binoculars, you should find about 80 (many more, if you're using a telescope). Since the Beehive is about 450 light years away the light you are seeing tonight left before Galileo first lifted his telescope toward the sky.

The Orion Nebula
Orion is a favourite target of telescope owners. In the centre of Orion's sword, just below the `belt`, lies the great Orion Nebula. Even small 60mm telescopes will show the brightest regions of the nebula and the "Trapezium"; a grouping of the brightest blue stars near the centre. The nebula glows because of the intense energy being radiated by them. The red light shows the location of the hydrogen gas, the blue light is light being reflected from the Trapezium. The blue colour has the same origin as the blue light of our daytime sky, the dust particles in this nebula, reflect blue light more readily than red. 



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There are many meteor showers this month...
The Quadrantids Meteors Shower Peaks  on January 4. It is active from January 1 through January 5.

ShowerActivity PeriodMaximumRadiantVelocityZHR
  DateR.A.Dec.km/s 
Zeta AurigidsDec 11-Jan 21Dec. 31/Jan. 1    
QuadrantidsJan 1-5Jan. 416.3h56.6°52.1114.2
Gamma VelidsJan 1-17Jan. 5-8    
Rho GeminidsDec 28-Jan 28Jan. 8/9    
January DraconidsJan10-24Jan. 13-16    
January BootidsJan 8-18Jan 813.9h-12.0°19.4 
Eta CrateridsJan 11-22Jan. 16/17    
Delta-CancridsDec 14-Feb 14Jan. 17128°+20°20.44
Coma BerenicidDec8 - Jan 23Jan 18165°+30° 6
Alpha HydridsJan 15-30Jan. 20/21    
Eta CarinidsJan 14-27Jan. 21/22    
CanidsJan13-30Jan. 24/25    
Alpha LeonidsJan13-Feb 13Jan. 24-31    
AurigidsJan-Feb 23Jan. 31   bolids
Orionids Jan. 3115.4h-15.3°29.924.3


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