Monday, July 15, 2024

Don't miss out on the beauty of the night sky… details of astronomical events to expect in January


Books – Mahmoud Ragheb

Monday, January 1, 2024 03:46 PM

2024 will be a great year for viewing the sky, as the Earth will reach perihelion on January 3rd, the closest point in its orbit to the Sun at the beginning of the year, and this will have no impact on the living. Northern Hemisphere, because it is away from direct sunlight at this time. The time of year and the waning moon will light up the evening sky from January 2024.

and revealed Astronomical Society at Jeddah In its report, this is not an ideal time because the night of January 3rd, specifically after midnight before dawn on January 4th, is when the meteor shower peaks fourfold. It's considered one of the best meteor showers, but the moon appears in its last square phase in the sky around midnight, so it obscures all but the brightest meteors.

Jupiter and Saturn adorn the evening sky, but as we move around the Sun the Earth gradually recedes from them, especially for Saturn.

In early January, Saturn appears as a moderately bright star on the southwestern horizon after evening twilight and sets before 9 p.m. At the end of the month, the planet will be closest to the horizon at dusk for all observers around the world.

Saturn is further away from us than it was last summer, but when using a small telescope, you can see the planet's ring system and its bright moon Titan. It is preferable to observe Saturn through a telescope during the first half. In January, the planet is still far from impacts, with Earth's atmosphere near the horizon.

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The new moon crescent will appear below Saturn on the evening of January 13, and will be conjunct Saturn on January 14.

Although Jupiter's distance from Earth continues to increase, the largest planet in our solar system is still the brightest object observed early at night.

It is visible before evening twilight, appears high on the southwestern horizon, and remains in the sky for several hours after sunset. When you look at Jupiter, remember that more than a thousand Earths could fit inside this giant planet in our solar system, and when using binoculars, you can see four of Jupiter's brightest moons.

The report continued: It's fun to watch these four moons constantly change their positions relative to Jupiter every hour and from night to night. When using a small telescope, Jupiter's bright cloud formations can be seen.

The Moon is at first quarter on January 18th, closest to Jupiter, a celestial conjunction not to be missed, after which the Moon will be full on the 25th of this month. Visible high in the sky at this time of year, despite its beauty, it obscures fainter celestial objects.

During the early morning hours and just before the onset of morning twilight, Venus shines brightest from the southeastern horizon and Venus will act as the “morning star” throughout this month and into most of February.

From roughly January 1 to January 20, the dim planet Mercury below Venus can also be seen.

Mercury will be very low in the sky, so you should expose the eastern horizon. On January 8th, the very faint crescent moon will join Venus and Mercury, and the moderately bright star Antares will be directly below the moon.

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Returning to the evening sky, the magnificent winter star constellations will grace the month of January, and everyone is sure to love the magnificent constellation (Orion) and brilliant companion constellations that dominate the eastern horizon early in the night at this time of year.

The stars of Gemini are distinguished by the three brightest stars that mark Orion's belt and are arranged in an almost straight line, this constellation includes the brightest stars, the star “Man” that marks Orion's knee and the star Betelgeuse in his armpit.

The star Betelgeuse is under constant observation, because in the next million years it will explode as a huge supernova, which is visible even during the day, as are the stars Auriga, including the bright star Al Ayouq (Capella). ), as well as the constellation Taurus, which includes the star Aldebaran.

Not far from it is the Pleiades, a star cluster similar to the Little Big Dipper. The Pleiades cluster contains more than a thousand young stars less than a hundred million years old.

After sunset, you'll see a bright star on the southeastern horizon: Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky at any time of the year.

He added: “If you draw a line through Orion's belt and extend it to the lower left, it points directly to Sirius, which is just over eight light-years away. One light-year is about 9.5 trillion kilometers.”

Sirius, Betelgeuse and Sirius form a star formation known as the “Winter Circle” or “Winter Hexagram”.

Suhail is another bright star that can be appreciated to the lower right of Sirius, the second brightest star in the night sky.

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Although they look very similar, they are two different stars. Sirius is a main sequence star similar to the Sun that burns hydrogen into helium to produce light, but because it is so massive, it burns so hot that it appears blue-white.

But Suhail evolves and dies. The hydrogen fuel in its core runs out and it swells into a giant, bright star. Instead of burning hydrogen, it burns helium to produce light.

Suhail is on the verge of going supernova or not depending on its mass.

Looking at the northern horizon at the beginning of the night, you will see the stars of the Big Dipper on the northeast horizon, and in the upper right part of the Big Dipper is the Little Dipper, which contains “Polaris”, the North Star. , will glow at the end of the handle.

Ursa Minor Also known as Ursa Minor, stars like an upside-down “W” (or an upside-down “M” on the right) can easily be seen on the northern horizon in the constellation Cassiopeia.

Likewise, our Milky Way galaxy's neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy, is not far from Cassiopeia on the northwestern horizon and can be seen with the naked eye from dark space. This galaxy is two million light years away.

Nadia Barnett
Nadia Barnett
"Award-winning beer geek. Extreme coffeeaholic. Introvert. Avid travel specialist. Hipster-friendly communicator."

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