The January Night Sky

news: The January Night Sky

By Clive Jackson

Welcome to the January night sky. Traditionally this month, in the northern hemisphere, the nights are long, dark and cold.

But for those of you who can put up with this, you will have the chance to see the Quadrantid meteor shower on the late evening of January 3. These meteors are fast and sometimes leave a blue trail, and this month should be good for viewing as the moon is not so bright. These meteors have their origin point close to the star Arcturus.

The year 2013 should be remembered for an exceptionally bright comet called ISON. This object discovered recently is not quite visible yet, even with a small telescope, but it is expected to be spectacular by the end of the year around Christmas time. 2013 may also be remembered as the year that India launched two deep-space missions. The first is a lunar lander to complement their lunar orbiter launched in 2008. And also, they have a project to send a probe to orbit Mars in November of this year.

2013 sees two solar eclipses: the first on May 10 is visible mainly from Australia but the second, on November 3, is visible from Portugal as a partial eclipse at 12h45 when 20% of the sun’s disc will be covered by the Moon.

There is a partial eclipse of the Moon on the night of April 25 but it will not be readily seen from Portugal.

The gas giant planet Jupiter continues to be seen high in the southern sky at nightfall; it’s in the constellation of Taurus and directly above Orion the hunter.

Jupiter is always a good sight in any telescope and, as it is so high in the sky at the moment, the view should be sharp and clear. The four large Moons of Jupiter will be easy to see with any optical aid.

Jupiter has always been considered the king of planets and is visible every year for at least 10 months of the year. It has an orbit of 12 years, which means it spends approximately one year in each of the zodiacal constellations. It will move into the Gemini next and won’t return to this place in the sky until 2025.

The Moon is last quarter on the 5th, new on the 11th, first quarter on 18th and full on January 27.

Download the Algarve Skies Chart by clicking on the link below to download a PDF of the chart.

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Clive Jackson is the Director of the Camera Obscura (next to the Castle in Tavira), specialising in education and public outreach. 281 322 527 |