January Observing Highlights
Hope for cloud-free skies on January 3 and 4 as a number of astronomical events occur within hours of each other.
After sunset on January 3, Jupiter can be found in the southwest looking like the brightest "star" in the sky. Through binoculars or a telescope, you can find Uranus just to Jupiter’s upper right, less than half a degree away. The two are still a half degree apart on the 4th, and over the following week they will remain within a degree from each other.
The Quadrantid meteor shower reaches its peak over the night from January 3 to 4, with up to 90 meteors an hour possible. Quadrans Muralis is the name of a now-defunct constellation that was once between Hercules and Bootes. Because a new moon occurs on January 4, there will be no moonlight to interfere with spotting the fainter meteors.
On January 4, a partial solar eclipse is visible for observers in northern Africa, Europe, and eastern Asia. For more on the event and other January observing events, see the Night Sky Observing Guide for January 2011.
-- Kelly Kizer Whitt loves clean, clear, and dark skies. Kelly studied English and Astronomy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and worked for Astronomy magazine. She is currently the Feature Writer for Astronomy and Space at Suite101.com. You can follow her on Twitter attwitter.com/Astronomommy.