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Dave MitskyModerator

Reged: 04/08/02

Loc: PA, USA, Planet Earth
January 2013 Celestial Calendar
      #5596155 - 12/30/12 01:17 PM

January Celestial Calendar by Dave Mitsky

All times are UT (subtract five hours, and one calendar day when appropriate, for EST)

1/1 Asteroid 9 Metis (magnitude 8.5) is at opposition at 18:00
1/2 The Earth is at perihelion (147,098,161 kilometers or 91,402,560 miles distant from the Sun) at 5:00
1/3 The peak of the Quadrantid meteor shower (40 to 120 or more per hour) occurs at 13:00; a double Galilean satellite shadow transit (Ganymedeís shadow follows Ioís) begins at 18:40
1/4 Mercury is at aphelion today; the latest sunrise of 2013 at latitude 40 degrees north occurs today
1/5 Last Quarter Moon occurs at 3:58; the Moon is 0.6 degree south of the first-magnitude star Spica (Alpha Virginis), with an occultation visible from most of New Zealand, Tasmania, southern Australia and Java, at 20:00; the Curtiss Cross, an X-shaped illumination effect located between the craters Parry and Gambart, is predicted to occur at 18:46
1/7 The latest onset of morning twilight of 2013 at latitude 40 degrees north occurs today; Saturn is 4 degrees north of the Moon at 1:00
1/10 The Moon is at perigee, subtending 33 arc minutes from a distance of 360,048 kilometers (224,299 miles), at 10:00; Venus is 3 degrees south of the Moon at 12:00
1/11 New Moon (lunation 1114) occurs at 19:44
1/13 Mars is 6 degrees south of the Moon at 12:00
1/14 Neptune is 6 degrees south of the Moon at 17:00
1/16 Uranus is 5 degrees south of the Moon at 5:00
1/17 Venus is at the descending node
1/18 Mercury is in superior conjunction at 9:00; First Quarter Moon occurs at 23:45
1/19 the Lunar X (the Purbach or Werner Cross), an X-shaped illumination effect involving various rims and ridges between the craters La Caille, Blanchinus, and Purbach, is predicted to occur at 8:01
1/22 Jupiter is 0.5 degree north of the Moon, with an occultation visible from central South America, the Galapagos and Pitcairn Islands, and French Polynesia, at 3:00; the Moon is at apogee, subtending 29 arc minutes from a distance of 405,310 kilometers (253,218 miles), at 11:00
1/24 Mercury is at its greatest heliocentric latitude south today; Mars is at perihelion today
1/27 Full Moon (known as the Ice Moon, the Moon After Yule, the Old Moon, and the Wolf Moon) occurs at 4:38; asteroid 4 Vesta is stationary at 18:00
1/30 Jupiter is stationary at 16:00

Johannes Hevelius (1611-1687) was born this month.

Galileo Galilei discovered Io, Europa, and Callisto on January 7, 1610. He discovered Ganymede on January 13, 1610. William Herschel discovered Titania and Oberon, two satellites of Uranus, on January 11, 1787. Giuseppe Piazzi discovered the first asteroid, 1 Ceres, on January 1, 1801.

The Quadrantid meteor shower peaks on the morning of January 3. Unfortunately, a waning crescent Moon will brighten the sky. This shower can sometimes reach zenithal hourly rates of more than 100 meteors per hour. The radiant of the Quadrantids lies at the junction of the constellations of BoŲtes, Hercules, and Draco, in what was once called Quadrans Muralis. The near-Earth asteroid 2003 EH1, which may be an extinct comet, is believed to be the source of these meteors. Browse for more on the Quadrantids.

The Moon is 18.6 days old and is located in Leo on January 1 at 0:00 UT. The Moon is at its greatest declination north of +20.9 degrees on January 23 and its greatest declination south of -20.9 degrees on January 9. Longitudinal libration is at a maximum of +7.2 degrees on January 16 and -6.6 degrees on January 3 and -5.3 degrees on January 30. Latitudinal libration is at a maximum of +6.7 degrees on January 1 and +6.6 degrees on January 28 and a minimum of -6.6 degrees on January 14. Visit for tips on spotting extreme crescent Moons. Times and dates for the lunar light rays predicted to occur this month are available at

The Sun is located in Sagittarius on January 1.

Data (magnitude, apparent size, illumination, and distance from the Earth in astronomical units) for the planets and Pluto on January 1: Mercury (-0.6, 4.8", 96%, 1.40 a.u., Sagittarius), Venus (-3.9, 10.8", 94%, 1.55 a.u., Ophiuchus), Mars (+1.2, 4.2", 98%, 2.23 a.u., Capricornus), Jupiter (-2.7, 46.8", 100%, 4.21 a.u., Taurus), Saturn (+0.6, 16.2", 100%, 10.23 a.u., Libra), Uranus (+5.9, 3.5", 100%, 20.39 a.u. on January 16, Pisces), Neptune (+8.0, 2.2", 100%, 30.79 a.u. on January 16, Aquarius), and Pluto (+14.2, 0.1", 100% , 33.31 a.u. on January 16, Sagittarius).

During the evening, Mercury, Mars, Uranus, and Neptune lie in the southwest and Jupiter lies in the east. At midnight, Jupiter is the west. Venus can be seen in the southeast and Saturn in the south in the morning.

At midmonth, Venus rises at 6:00 a.m., Mars sets at 7:00 p.m., Jupiter transits the meridian at 9:00 p.m. and sets at 4:00 a.m., and Saturn rises at 2:00 a.m. local time for observers at latitude 40 degrees north.

Mercury is not visible during most of January. Itís at aphelion on January 4, is in superior conjunction on January 18, and reaches greatest heliocentric latitude south on January 24. Mercury emerges from the glare of the Sun at the end of the month. On January 31, it will be located seven degrees to the lower right of Mars at sunset.

Venus shines at magnitude -3.9 throughout January. The brightest planetís morning apparition is almost over. Venus drops lower in the morning sky with each passing day. By the end of the month, itís barely above the horizon at sunrise. A very thin waning crescent Moon is three degrees north of the planet on January 10. On January 17, Venus passes the descending node.

Earth is 0.98329 a.u. from the Sun at perihelion on January 2. On that date, itís about 3% (5.0 million kilometers or 3.1 million miles) closer to the Sun than at aphelion.

Mars is just four arc seconds in angular size as it moves eastward through Capricornus into Aquarius this month. It can be found six degrees south of the Moon on January 13. On January 24, the Red Planet is at perihelion. By January 30, Mars sets about 90 minutes after the Sun.

Jupiter will not reach opposition again until January 5, 2014. During January, Jupiterís disk shrinks in size by almost four arc seconds. The largest planet fades slightly in brightness to magnitude -2.5 this month. The sixth-magnitude binary star SAO 76571 lies within ten arc minutes of Jupiter from January 2 to January 5. The waxing gibbous Moon passes 0.5 degree (0.8 degree from North America) south of Jupiter on the night of January 21. Jupiter retrogrades slowly through Taurus during January. When it becomes stationary on January 30, Jupiter lies ten arc minutes from Omega Tauri (magnitude 4.9). Early evening transits by Io and its shadow take place on January 1, January 8, January 24, and January 31 for North American observers. Ganymede begins to transit the planet before Ioís shadow egresses on January 24. A transit by Europa takes place during the early evening of January 14. Browse in order to determine transit times of Jupiterís central meridian by the Great Red Spot. Data on the Galilean satellites is available at

Saturn is currently positioned 12 degrees south of the celestial equator. ItĎs ring tilt angle is 19 degrees at midmonth, the largest inclination since 2006, and will remain within one degree of 18 degrees until October. At midmonth, Saturnís disk subtends 17 arc seconds and its rings span 38 arc seconds. (The extent of Saturnís rings is 2.27 times its equatorial diameter.) On January 30, Saturn reaches western quadrature. By monthís end, the separation between Saturn and the binary star Zubenelgenubi (Alpha Librae) drops to 4.5 degrees. For information on the satellites of Saturn, browse

Uranus sets by late evening this month. The seventh planet is currently north of the celestial equator and will remain so until 2052. The waxing crescent Moon passes six degrees north of Uranus on the evening of January 16. Uranus (magnitude 5.9) lies 1.2 degrees west south-southwest of the slightly brighter star 44 Piscium (magnitude 5.8) at the end of the month.

Neptune (magnitude 8.0) is located less than one degree east of the star 38 Aquarii (magnitude 5.4). Neptune sets nearly three hours before Uranus and can no longer be seen by the end of January.

Finder charts for Uranus and Neptune can be found on page 50 of the September 2012 issue of Sky & Telescope and at

The dwarf planet Pluto is not visible this month. Pluto will not come to conjunction with the Sun this year.

For more on the planets and how to locate them, browse

This month, 1 Ceres and 4 Vesta, the two brightest asteroids, both reside in Taurus. The seventh-magnitude dwarf planet/asteroid 1 Ceres passes a few degrees to the south of the second-magnitude star Beta Tauri, while the slightly brighter 4 Vesta lies north of the first-magnitude star Aldebaran (Alpha Tauri). Browse for information on asteroid occultations.

During early January, comet C/2012 K5 (LINEAR) grows increasingly fainter as it glides from central Auriga into Taurus. It passes between the open clusters M36 and M37 on the nights of January 2 and January 3 and rather close to Beta Tauri and dwarf planet/asteroid 1 Ceres the next night. On January 7, C/2012 K5 passes five degrees to the east of Aldebaran. Visit and for additional information on comets visible this month and in the near future.

Free star maps for January can be downloaded at and

The famous eclipsing variable star Algol (Beta Persei) is at a minimum, decreasing in magnitude from 2.1 to 3.4, on January 1,3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 26, and 29. Consult for the times of the eclipses. For more on Algol, see and

One hundred and five binary and multiple stars for January: Omega Aurigae, 5 Aurigae, Struve 644, 14 Aurigae, Struve 698, Struve 718, 26 Aurigae, Struve 764, Struve 796, Struve 811, Theta Aurigae (Auriga); Struve 485, 1 Camelopardalis, Struve 587, Beta Camelopardalis, 11 & 12 Camelopardalis, Struve 638, Struve 677, 29 Camelopardalis, Struve 780 (Camelopardalis); h3628, Struve 560, Struve 570, Struve 571, Struve 576, 55 Eridani, Struve 596, Struve 631, Struve 636, 66 Eridani, Struve 649 (Eridanus); Kappa Leporis, South 473, South 476, h3750, h3752, h3759, Beta Leporis, Alpha Leporis, h3780, Lallande 1, h3788, Gamma Leporis (Lepus); Struve 627, Struve 630, Struve 652, Phi Orionis, Otto Struve 517, Beta Orionis (Rigel), Struve 664, Tau Orionis, Burnham 189, h697, Struve 701, Eta Orionis, h2268, 31 Orionis, 33 Orionis, Delta Orionis (Mintaka), Struve 734, Struve 747, Lambda Orionis, Theta-1 Orionis (the Trapezium), Theta-2 Orionis, Iota Orionis, Struve 750, Struve 754, Sigma Orionis, Zeta Orionis (Alnitak), Struve 790, 52 Orionis, Struve 816, 59 Orionis, 60 Orionis (Orion); Struve 476, Espin 878, Struve 521, Struve 533, 56 Persei, Struve 552, 57 Persei (Perseus); Struve 479, Otto Struve 70, Struve 495, Otto Struve 72, Struve 510, 47 Tauri, Struve 517, Struve 523, Phi Tauri, Burnham 87, Xi Tauri, 62 Tauri, Kappa & 67 Tauri, Struve 548, Otto Struve 84, Struve 562, 88 Tauri, Struve 572, Tau Tauri, Struve 598, Struve 623, Struve 645, Struve 670, Struve 674, Struve 680, 111 Tauri, 114 Tauri, 118 Tauri, Struve 730, Struve 742, 133 Tauri (Taurus)

Notable carbon star for January: R Leporis (Hindís Crimson Star)

Seventy deep-sky objects for January: B26-28, B29, M36, M37, M38, NGC 1664, NGC 1778, NGC 1857, NGC 1893, NGC 1907, NGC 1931 (Auriga); IC 361, Kemble 1 (Kembleís Cascade asterism), NGC 1501, NGC 1502, NGC 1530, NGC 1569 (Camelopardalis); NGC 1507, NGC 1518, NGC 1531, NGC 1532, NGC 1535, NGC 1537, NGC 1600, NGC 1637, NGC 1659, NGC 1700 (Eridanus); IC 418, M79, NGC 1832, NGC 1888, NGC 1964 (Lepus); B33, Cr65, Cr69, Cr70, IC 434, M42, M43, M78, NGC 1662, NGC 1973-75-77, NGC 1981, NGC 1999, NGC 2022, NGC 2023, NGC 2024, NGC 2112 (Orion); Be11, NGC 1491, NGC 1496, NGC 1499, NGC 1513, NGC 1528, NGC 1545, NGC 1548, NGC 1579, NGC 1582, NGC 1605, NGC 1624 (Perseus); DoDz3, DoDz4, M1, Mel 25, NGC 1514, NGC 1587, NGC 1647, NGC 1746, NGC 1807, NGC 1817 (Taurus)

Top ten binocular deep-sky objects for January: Cr65, Kemble 1, M36, M37, M38, M42, NGC 1528, NGC 1647, NGC 1746, NGC 1981

Top ten deep-sky objects for January: M1, M36, M37, M38, M42, M43, M78, M79, NGC 1501, NGC 2024

Challenge deep-sky object for January: IC 2118 (Eridanus)

The objects listed above are located between 4:00 and 6:00 hours of right ascension.

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