What’s Up! January 2022

A monthly look at astronomical events in the sky and on Earth 

Compiled by Steve Sawyer and John Rowland

Happy New Year! Here’s looking forward to an excellent year of astronomy with (hopefully) lots of clear skies!

[Take the January 2022 Quiz – Telescopes & Observing]

 

So what’s on this month?

Well, some of you may be aware, the James Webb telescope had a successful launch on Christmas day (25/12/2021). If you missed the launch (it was around lunchtime) and you may have been busy with other things (food and booze perhaps) you can catch up with the live feeds below:

Useful links: [Where is the Webb Telescope?] [Webb vs Hubble Comparison]

Best media comment: Heard on BBC Television on Christmas Day, asked by the main newsreader, “So, how far beyond the universe will this telescope be able to see?”

Onto this month’s viewing:

 

January Objects

The Sun

I haven’t seen this for a while but it’s apparently still around above all the grey murk. The current sunspot number at the time of writing is 128 with a large sunspot current turning towards Earth.  For more info on the sun and solar weather, have a look at the Space Weather Prediction Centre website.

The Moon

The New Moon is on 2nd January at 1833 GMT, with the full moon rising on the 17th (called the Wolf Moon, January’s full moon is named after the howling of hungry wolves lamenting the scarcity of food in midwinter. Other names are the old moon and the ice moon).

On Tuesday the 4th of January, a very thin (5%-lit) waxing Crescent Moon may be seen very low above the southwest horizon. If you have a clear view of the southwest horizon down to ground level then this might be possible to see it! (See the Crescent Moon Watch page for more details.)

The best days to observe the moon will be at the beginning and towards the end of the month, avoiding the brightest moons in the middle of the month.

A full lunar calendar can be found at the Moon Info website (Moon Phases 2022).

The Planets

You may be able to see seven planets shortly after sunset from the 4th of January 2022.

Have a look in the Sky at Night magazine for a full guide.

 

Mercury

This will be one of the best times to view Mercury as it will be at its highest point above the horizon.  Look for the planet low in the evening sky after sunset.  Mercury will set around 100 minutes after sunset. The best time of visibility is a day or two on either side of the 14th when it’s 3.5 degrees to the right of Saturn, due SW at 10 deg altitude at sunset (1615). Mercury mag 0.5; Saturn mag 0.7, so really close in brightness but very different in colour.

Venus

Low, early evening planet.   If you’re lucky and have a clear Western horizon, venus will be visible as a 2% lit crescent on the 1st of January. Be careful to make sure the sun has set before chasing this as the planet is quite close to the sun! After the 9th Venus becomes a morning planet and on the 14th will be visible as at 1% lit crescent.  Around this time Venus rises an hour before the sun.

Mars 

A morning planet rising 2 hours before the sun.

Jupiter 

A bright evening planet that will be visible from early evening in January.

Saturn 

Compromised by the evening twilight and is not well placed for viewing this month.

Meteor Showers

This month it’s the turn of the Quadrantids, with the best time to see this shower being the 3rd/4th.  This is a high rate shower with a typical peak of 120 meteors per hour.  The radiant for this shower is close to the constellation Bootes. The peak of the shower is quite early at around 8:40 pm, which is nice for us working folks. The radiant will have only just risen at this time so look towards the North / North Eastern horizon.

Comets

Comet C/2021 A1 — AKA Comet Leonard. I haven’t managed to see this one yet, thanks to all the grey murk.  But from looking at the images online it’s certainly worth pursuing. Full details on how to find it on the EarthSky.org website. A gallery of images can be found at the SpaceWeather.com Image Gallery website.

There is also Comet C/2019 L3 Atlas which at a mag of nearly +10 is a lot harder to see.  But is a good target for scopes.  The comet can be found near Castor at the start of the month.

 

Deep Sky Objects (DSOs)

This month is a great time to explore the winter Milky Way, it gets dark early and with a new moon at the start of the month all those who have some new imaging kit from Santa will have a good start to the year.

8th Jan Orion reaches its highest position in the sky.  A good time is around half ten just as the moon sets.

 

Man’s Space Activities

Spotting the International Space Station

The ISS is visible on many nights during January 2022 from the UK (York).

Date  Visible  Max Height  Appears  Disappears
Sat Jan 1, 6:03 AM 3 min 46° 45° above SSW 10° above ESE
Sun Jan 2, 5:17 AM 2 min 24° 24° above ESE 10° above ESE
Sun Jan 2, 6:50 AM 5 min 24° 16° above WSW 10° above SSE
Mon Jan 3, 6:03 AM 3 min 31° 31° above SSW 10° above SE
Tue Jan 4, 5:17 AM 1 min 19° 19° above SE 10° above SE
Tue Jan 4, 6:50 AM 3 min 13° 12° above WSW 10° above S
Wed Jan 5, 6:04 AM 2 min 18° 18° above SSW 10° above SSE
Thu Jan 6, 5:17 AM < 1 min 12° 12° above SSE 10° above SSE

Ref: Spot the Station website (York, UK)

 

Results for December 2021 Quiz

Winners, all with a score of 11 out of a possible 13 were:

Andrew Downie; Paul Thornley; Quinn Smith

Very Well Done!

For details of the Answers, follow this link: Whats_Up_December_2021_Quiz_Answers

 

January 2022 Quiz – Telescopes & Observing

Quiz icon12 multi-choice questions for beginners up to experts level.
Please click on the link below to take the quiz.
Follow the January 2022 Quiz link here!
And Good Luck!

The winner(s) will be posted on the website (“Leave a Reply”) and also at the next YAS Meeting after the 15th.

Thanks for your interest, and we wish you clear skies and good viewing. Stay safe!

Steve Sawyer and  John Rowland!

 

4 thoughts on “What’s Up! January 2022

  1. Thanks John/Steve, I have done the quiz and thought it was very good again.
    Had to take a punt on some of the questions so it will be interesting to see the results. Made me scratch my head a few times and I think that is the point.
    11 out of 13 for the winners last month is impressive.
    Thanks Neil M.

    • Thanks Neil.
      Re the quiz, yes, our idea is to help folks to learn more about their astronomy hobby via challenging and fun quizzes. This latest one, I hope, will dispel some misapprehensions and highlight some key truths.

  2. Congratulations to Andrew Downie and Quinn Smith who were equal best scorers (again!) with scores of 9 in the January Quiz.
    Can anyone beat our twice top scorers? Wait for the February quiz.

  3. The Quiz is now closed. Many thanks to all 12 members who participated. The answers have been automatically emailed to all participants and the results will be announced at the next YAS Meeting and next month’s What’s Up! issue, as usual.

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