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01/01/2015 – Ephemeris – Happy New Year – a look at January

January 1, 2015

Ephemeris for New Years Day, Thursday, January 1st.  The sun will rise at 8:20.  It’ll be up for 8 hours and 52 minutes, setting at 5:12.   The moon, 3 days before full, will set at 5:43 tomorrow morning.

Happy New Year.  Let’s preview the month of January.  We’re a day from the latest sunrise at about the same time as today, 8:20 a.m. and will back down to 8:02 by the 31st.  Sunset times are currently increasing by a minute a day from 5:12 p.m. today to 5:49 at month’s end.  Listeners near the shore of Lake Michigan will have about the same sunrise time in Ludington, Interlochen/Traverse City, Petoskey and Mackinaw City, but the sunset times will vary markedly.  The Quadrantid meteor shower whose radiant is near the end of the Big Dipper’s handle will reach peak on the 3rd, but it will have interference from the full moon,.  On the 4th the Earth will be its closest to the sun of the entire year.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan.  They may be different for your location.


Monthly Star Chart

January 2015 star chart

Star Chart for January 2015. Created using my LookingUp program.

The Moon is not plotted.  The planets and stars are plotted for the 15th at 9 p.m.  That is chart time.

Evening astronomical twilight ends at 6:58 p.m. on January 1st, and increasing to 7:30 p.m. on the 31st.

Morning astronomical twilight starts at 6:34 a.m. on January 1st, and decreasing to 6:22 a.m. on the 31st.

Add a half hour to the chart time every week before the 15th and subtract and hour for every week after the 15th.

For a list of constellation names to go with the abbreviations click here.

The green pointer from the Big Dipper is the pointer stars at the front of the bowl of the Big Dipper that point to Polaris the North Star.

The Quadrantid meteor shower

The moon will interfere with the meteor shower, so only the brightest will be visible.  The radiant will rise from the northeast.  The radiant will be nearly overhead at the start of twilight.  On a dark night up to 120 meteors per hour may be seen according to the International Meteor Organization.

Quadrantid meteor shower radiant at 1:30 a.m.

Quadrantid meteor shower radiant at 1:30 a.m.

The Earth at Perihelion

This is the closest the Earth gets to the Sun in its orbit this year.  The Sun will be 91,402,000 miles or 147,096,000 kilometers away at around 1 a.m. January 4th, 2015 EST or 6 hr UT January 5th 2015.  It makes winter the shortest season because the Earth is moving its fastest during perihelion.  It’s only by a few days.  And in northern Michigan where it seems that winter overlaps half of fall and spring besides, that few days difference is buried under snow.

Quasi-conjunction between Venus and Mercury on the evening of January 10th.

A quasi-conjunction. Conjunctions occur when two solar system bodies have the same right ascension. Mercury will get to within 0.6 degrees of Venus before retreating back sun-ward.

Quasi-conjunction of Venus and Mercury

Animation of the Quasi-conjunction of Venus and Mercury. Time span 1/05/2015 to 1/15/2015 at 7 p.m. Created by Bob Moler using Stellarium and GIMP.

Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy)

Here is a finder chart for 9 p.m. for January.  Every other position is marked with the month-day and predicted magnitude.  Recently the comet has shown to be brighter than predicted by up to one magnitude.  Note that magnitudes in astronomy are like golf scores – the lower the number, the brighter the object.  So the comet should reach 4th magnitude.

Comet Lovejoy

Nightly plot of Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2) for the month of January, 2015 at 9 p.m.
Created using Cartes du Ceil (Sky Charts).


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