• Chris Baker

What's Up? - January 2021

Each month I highlight a few objects you can spot in the night sky without the need for optical equipment. Here are the exciting things for January!


The Planets


Mercury

Mercury is a a rare sight to see so it is really worth giving it a try this month.

You will need a good low horizon to be able to spot the elusive beast as it sets not long after the Sun - low in the SOUTH WEST.

As an example, midmonth from London, it lies 10 degrees above the south western horizon at sunset, around 4:20pm. If the skies are clear you should be able to spot the planet. If you use binoculars make sure the SUN HAS SET as using optical equipment when the Sun is visible can cause blindness.


Example of the position of Mercury looking South West at Sunset

Courtesy of Stellarium


Later in the month it will be higher up at Sunset and therefore easier to locate. Still only around 13 degrees though on the 24th. Do give it a try and let me know if you spot the little planet!



Venus

You will have to be quick to spot Venus this month as it is merges into the Sun's glare. You may be able to catch it's shining beauty in the first few days of the month at sunrise, around 7am. You will need to look East to spot Venus


Venus low down in the in the early morning sky

Courtesy of Stellarium


Mars

Mars is well past it's brightest best but is easily visible throughout the month. You can't miss it's red glow! You'll spot it early to late evening in the SOUTH.


An example of Mars in the night sky - 8:30 on the 5th January in a southerly direction.

Courtesy of Stellarium


Jupiter and Saturn


Hardly visible very low down in the South West sky at sunset - but you can try!



A Meteor Shower- Again!

This month offer another chance to spot some shooting stars. Did you manage it last month? if not here is another chance. If you did -here's another chance to make a wish!

This month it is the Quadrantids. This is one of the year's major showers so do give it a try.

At the right time you can expect around 50 meteors per hour - although the Moon will be quite bright so may hide some of them from view. On the plus side they emanate from high in the sky (in northern latitudes!) so that's good.

Where to see

The best time is late night -early morning 2nd and into the early hours of the 3rd January. At around 1pm on the 3rd they will emanate from around 30 degrees up looking in an north-north eastern direction.

Good luck and do let me know if you spot a shooting star!


Thank you for reading this blog and do let me know if there is anything you would like me to add to my Newsletter each month.

chris@galaxyonglass.com

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