Here are the Moon phases in the Northern hemisphere for January 2011 and other interesting things of note in the sky.
4th January: New Moon
12th January: First Quarter
19th January: Full Moon
26th January: Last Quarter
The first full Moon of the year (which will be visible on the 19th January this year) is occasionally called the Wolf Moon.
The Quadrantid meteor shower occurs early in the month. Around 40 meteors per hour might be seen at the height of the shower which peaks around the 3rd and 4th of January. The Quadrantids appear to radiate from the constellation of Boötes and are best viewed from as far North as possible after 11pm and in the (very) early hours of the morning.
On the 4th of January, there’s an opportunity to see a partial solar eclipse of the Sun (if we have clear skies!). This happens as the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun; partially obscuring the Sun from our view from Earth. It’ll be visible from much of Europe, North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and Western Asia as this animated gif shows:
As we continue through the dark winter nights, there’s never been a better time to check out my post on the Top 5 Winter Night Sky Objects!
One of the most distinct and interesting areas of the sky to discover at this time of year is the constellation of Orion.
The BBC are encouraging participation in ‘Stargazing Live‘ – on the 3rd, 4th and 5th of January 2011 at 8pm on BBC Two. Hosted by Professor Brian Cox (‘Wonders of the Solar System’) and Dara O Briain, there are also lot’s of great related events taking place around the UK. You can search for events near you here.