January 3, 2015 Robert

The Night Sky – January 2015

For stargazers and Northern Lights hunters, January 2015 will be a very exciting month. Combining stargazing via powerful telescope with your Northern Lights hunt is sure to deliver a lot more memorable experience. Read on to see what’s up with the planets, meteor showers and deep sky phenomena in the coming month.

Not to be missed

Comet Lovejoy is passing by. It’s now or after eight thousand years. Read on.

Planets

One of the most visually appealing planet in our Solar System, Jupiter, will be visible in the evening sky. Rising in the East it’s sure to be an excellent spectacle on clear sky evenings providing a great past-time while waiting for the Northern Lights to grace us. With a little bit of luck Mars will be visible in the South-West sky. Being rather low on the horizon will make it a challenging sighting due to terrestrial obstructions in some places. Late January, Mercury and Venus will follow in Mars’s path.

Stars

Betelgeuse will be visible in the Southern sky. This red supergiant is always interesting if only for facts like it being 400 times the size of our Sun and one of the brightest stars in the night sky. Oh, and of course the fact that it is probably going to blow up soon. Luckily for you though, “soon” in an astrological sense means a million years. To put your mind completely at ease Betelgeuse is about 600 light years away from us, so we should be safe.

Deep sky phenomena

As Betelgeuse, also a part of the Orion Constellation, the Orion Nebula will be visible in the night sky. This is our personal favorite and is very interesting to view in our powerful telescope.

Another beautiful deep sky phenomena, the Pleiades will also be visible during January. This is a cluster of thousands of stars but eight being most visible and forming a miniature Big dipper of sorts.

Special events

During the night of January 4th. Earth’s outer atmosphere will be bombarded by the annual Quadrantid meteor shower. With up to 50-100 meteors per hour this is one of the most impressive meteor showers that hit our Earth and this one favors the Northern Hemisphere so be sure not to miss it if you will be staying in Iceland at that time. Unfortunately though, the moon will be rather bright at this time and the moonlight will wash out some of the fainter “shooting stars”. The meteors will be radiating from the northern sky, just below the Big Dipper.

Another, even more spectacular sky event is the passing of Comet Lovejoy. If you are looking for something really special, this is it. Catch it with a powerful telescope now as it will be about 8.000 years until it will pass by our Solar system again. Lovejoy will be rising throughout the month so if your staying in Iceland hop on and test your luck. Best case scenario, you will see northern lights and the only passing of Comet Lovejoy for the next several thousand years. And here’s a fun fact: Comet Lovejoy was discovered last year by Terry Lovejoy using a smaller telescope than we carry in our trips.

Image: Gerald Rhemann

 

 

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