Sunday, January 4, 2015

0105Y2K+15 New Year, Old Planet, New Sky

Observing the Sky above and Earth Below… should be an interesting year. Finding a Comet is always a challenge. Comet c2014 Q2 Lovejoy - Here it is! The best comet of the winter; now high overhead for northern observers at about 8:30 local time in the constellation of Taurus, it might attain naked eye visibility (magnitude 6.0 or brighter). Track it here! Looking forward to the Pluto bound discoveries from New Horizon this summer. Hopeful prospects for some rain to end our drought! Maybe some clear nights to catch my favorite constellations in dark skies.

Start this month with a WEEKEND METEOR SHOWER: The annual Quadrantid meteor shower, caused by debris from shattered comet 2003 EH1, peaks on Sunday, January 4th. Because the debris stream is narrow, the shower is expected to be brief, producing a surge of 50 to 100 meteors per hour around 0400 Universal Time. The timing of the peak and the location of the shower's radiant favor observers in northern Europe. Outlook is good for January 3-9!

This month some of our solar system planets can be seen as they move across our night sky:
Jupiter dominates the evening sky can be found in Cancer-Leo. Mercury can be found at mid-month in the west after sunset in Capricornus. Look for Mars and Neptune only a few degrees apart, due east of the Red Planet; by January 18-19, the two planets will be visible in the same field of view of a wide field telescope. Saturn rises around 3 am. On Jan. 15, the thin waning crescent moon and Saturn will be incredibly close, making a great wide field photo-op! Watch for it in Libra. On this night the Group is scheduled to gather on the hill at TPML. Clear skies to all and to all a dark night!

Space Flight 2015: There are seven scheduled Space Launches this month. The ISS Expedition Crew 42 passes over every 90 minutes. View ISS passes at Heavens Above. Change to your location once you are on the site page.
Earth News: Carbon Dioxide study results in good news