January 2024 – What’s Up!

Week of 29th January

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 18:47 UT at the start of the week and at 18:56 UT by the end of the week.
  • Jupiter (-2.4) culminates at around 17:50 UT this week. There are early evening GRS transits on Thursday and Saturday.
  • Two comets are in our skies, both are faint at around mag +10, so a telescope is required to find them. Look for comet 144P/Kushida in Taurus and comet 62P/Tsuchinshan in Virgo.
  • As we approach Messier Marathon season, get in training with some low open clusters in the south: M41 (+4.5) in Canis Major, M50 (+5.9) in Monoceros, M46 (+6.1) and M47 (+4.4) in Puppis, and M48 (+5.8) in Hydra. Good luck!
  • The Moon is Last Quarter on Friday.
  • The Sun currently has 3 active regions and the sunspot number is 52.
  • There are multiple visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

Week of 22nd January

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 18:36 UT at the start of the week and at 18:45 UT by the end of the week.
  • Jupiter (-2.4) culminates at around 18:15 UT this week. This apparition is drawing to a close as Jupiter starts to recede in our view, now at an apparent size of about 40 arcseconds and sinking towards the western horizon.
  • Comet 144P/Kushida is passing through Taurus as it reaches perihelion on Thursday. It is mag +10.5, so a telescope challenge to find.
  • The Moon is Full on Thursday – the Wolf Moon.
  • The Sun currently has 9 active regions and the sunspot number is 144.
  • There are multiple visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

Week of 15th January

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 18:27 UT at the start of the week and at 18:35 UT by the end of the week.
  • Jupiter (-2.5) culminates at around 18:40 UT this week. The first quarter Moon is in conjunction with Jupiter on Thursday, with a separation of about 2°.
  • This week’s binocular Deep Sky Challenge is a series of four open clusters. We start in Cassiopeia with Caroline’s Rose, NGC 7789 (+6.7), a dense cluster at about 5.9 kly. Next on to the Owl Cluster, NGC 457 (+6.4), at 7.9 kly, and finally to the Double Cluster, NGCs 869 and 884 at 6.8 kly and 9.6 kly in Perseus. Good luck and enjoy these sparkling jewel boxes!
  • The Moon is First Quarter on Thursday.
  • The Sun currently has 13 active regions and the sunspot number is 191.
  • There are multiple visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

Week of 8th January

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 18:19 UT at the start of the week and at 18:26 UT by the end of the week.
  • Mercury (-0.2) reaches Greatest Western Elongation on Friday, making it well placed in the morning sky. Look to the southeast at around 07:00 UT to spot the planet at about 8° altitude. Venus (-4.0), the morning star, is about 10° to the west.
  • Jupiter (-2.5) culminates at around 19:00 UT this week.
  • This month’s New Moon Deep Sky Challenge is in the constellation of Gemini. Start with the open cluster M35 (+5.1), with a larger aperture you can also see NGC 2158 (+8.6) in the field of view to the southwest. Next, on to the planetary nebula NGC 2392 (+9.2), the more aperture the better on this small object! Finally, on to the beautiful double star Castor (+1.6 and +2.9), easily split at 5 arcseconds of separation, but high magnification will be required. Good luck!
  • The Moon is New on Thursday.
  • The Sun currently has 8 active regions and the sunspot number is 149.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

Week of 1st January

  • Happy New Year!
  • Astronomical twilight ends at 18:12 UT at the start of the week and at 18:18 UT by the end of the week.
  • Earth reaches perihelion on Wednesday, the closest point to the Sun in its orbit at just 0.983 AU.
  • The Quadrantid Meteor Shower peaks on Thursday. The peak is brief, lasting only about 8 hours, but it can be an intense shower with a nominal peak ZHR of about 120 meteors. The shower’s progenitor is asteroid 2003 EH1. The radiant is in the defunct constellation of Quadrans Muralis, now in Bootes.
  • Saturn (+0.9) is ever lower in the sky as its current apparition draws to a close. It now sets at around 20:45 UT and is only effectively visible until the end of January. Slew your telescope to Saturn this month before it is too late.
  • Jupiter (-2.6) culminates at around 19:35 UT this week.
  • The Moon is Last Quarter on Thursday.
  • The Sun currently has 3 active regions and the sunspot number is 48.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).