Happy New Year! Wondering what you can find when you look up to the sky this January 2015? Clear, cold winter nights provide an excellent opportunity for skygazing if you wrap up warm and get prepared. In this post, we’ll discover some of the top things to look out for if you cast your gaze upward this month. You might even see a comet!
The Night Sky
With clear skies, all five planets visible to the naked eye can be spotted in the evenings in January 2015. Mercury, Venus and Mars can be spotted shortly after sunrise in the South East. With Mercury and Venus so close to the intensely bright Sun care should be taken to avoid looking at them whilst the Sun is still above the horizon. Around 5pm on the 21st January, there’s a chance to see a thin crescent Moon, Mercury, Venus and Mars very close together in the South Western horizon.
Jupiter isn’t too far behind them rising in the East before midnight and staying visible all through the night. It’s the brightest object in the night sky other than the Moon.
Saturn, the ringed-planet rises in the South East just before sunrise.
As for the stars, well… at this time of year, look out for Taurus the bull charging towards Orion the hunter. This rich area of the night sky provides a visual feast for stargazers. It’s also here that you might see Comet Lovejoy this January. At the start of the month it can be found within Orion but it’s heading roughly north over the following weeks and will pass through Taurus – the good news for observers is it’s getting bright enough to view for the unaided eye. What a way to start the year!
The Quadrantids meteor shower falls in early January, peaking around the night of the 3rd and morning of the 4th. However, with a nearly full Moon the display will be difficult to see. For the best opportunity to see these ‘shooting stars’ head out after midnight away from the bright lights of the city.
The image below shows the sky overhead Glasgow, UK around midnight on the 20th January 2015. As the night of the new Moon this gives a great opportunity to see the the sky without the additional light reflecting from our neighbour in space. You can click on it to make the image larger.
Sunrise and Sunset times, Glasgow
5th January 2015 – Sunrise 08:46 Sunset 15:59
13th January 2015 – Sunrise 08:40 Sunset 16:12
20th January 2015 – Sunrise 08:32 Sunset 16:25
- 27th January 2015 – Sunrise 08:21 Sunset 16:39
All the times listed above are local to Glasgow.
Full Moon – 5th January 2015, 04:54
Third Quarter – 13th January 2015, 09:47
New Moon – 20th January 2015, 13:14
- First Quarter – 27th January 2015, 04:49
Times listed above are local to Glasgow.
Are you just getting into astronomy or a seasoned pro? Check out these fantastic books about astronomy which are accessible for all levels and highly recommended.
This January, get out and look up often to enjoy the spectacular skies!