Happy new year stargazers!
I hope 2023 was a blast and I hope 2024 is even better!! We are still on the winter night sky, so that’s perfect, there is so much to see and definitely so much to talk about!! It’s still cold in January, so wrap up and have your fav hot drink at the ready while you’re doing some observing.
As we are still in Winter, our nights come early as our skies get dark about 4:30pm, which means you don’t have to stay up too late to stargaze. If you are facing south east, you will see a VERY bright object in the sky, and this happens to be Jupiter!!
Here is what else you can look out for in the Month of January!
Our full moon won’t be until the end of January, 25th, so the start of January will be partially dark skies, meaning we will hopefully be able to see the Quadrantids meteor shower that peaks between 3rd and 4th, yay! The moon is given a different ‘name’ each month, but for January, the most common name for the Moon is the ‘Wolf Moon’. The origin of the name comes from Native Americans who often heard wolves howling during the cold nights at this time of year.
A lesser known constellation to look for is Monoceros! It lies in the northern sky, on the celestial equator. It’s name means ‘Unicorn’ in Latin, how cool! It is one of the 15 equatorial constellations. It is one of the 12 constellations that was named by the Dutch astronomer Petrus Plancius and he included it on the celestial globe in 1612. Monoceros is often overlooked because it is less bright compared to its neighbouring constellations. The neighbouring constellations being the Orion family, Canis Major, Canis Minor, Lepus and (of course, couldn’t forget, the main man himself…) Orion the Hunter.
The Christmas Tree Cluster
Now, Monoceros is already quite cool because it’s basically a unicorn.. BUT.. It also has quite a few ‘cooler’ deep sky objects located within it. My personal favourite deep sky object would be The Christmas Tree Cluster (NGC 2264) (I know we are finished with Christmas 2023… but, it’s never too early to start thinking about Christmas 2024!!!) It was named this due to the triangular shape which has been formed by a cluster of very young stars, that looks like a tree in visible light. It is approx. 2,350 light-years away and stretches about 30 light years across.
Hopefully that sums up January for you all and keeps you busy for a few evenings! If you ever see anything weird or interesting in our night sky, don’t be afraid to get in touch via email and we will try our best to figure it out. Thanks for reading!