With the Newbury Astronomical Society
Total Lunar Eclipse 21st January Click on links Below
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The chart above shows the night sky looking south at about 17:00 GMT on 15th January. West is to the right and east to the left. The point in the sky directly overhead is known as the Zenith or Nadir and is shown at the centre of the chart. The curved brown line across the sky at the bottom is the Ecliptic or Zodiac. This is the imaginary line along which the Sun, Moon and planets appear to move across the sky. The brightest stars often appear to form a group or recognisable pattern; we call these ‘Constellations’.
Constellations through which the ecliptic passes this month are Aquarius (the Water Carrier), Piscis (the Fishes), Aries (the Ram), Taurus (the Bull), Gemini (the Twins), Cancer (the Crab) and Leo (the Lion).
The Milky Way (our Galaxy) flows up from the south eastern horizon through Orion and Gemini. It continues up through Perseus and Cassiopea and on into Cygnus which is now disappearing over the western horizon.
Mars is still in a reasonable position, for observing during the early evening, now in the constellation of Piscis. Above Mars is the constellation of Pegasus (the Winged Horse). The main feature of Pegasus is the square formed by the four brightest stars. This asterism (shape) is known as the Great Square of Pegasus. The square is larger than might be expected but once found is easier to find again.
Joined to the upper left star (Alpheratz) of the Square of Pegasus is the ‘>’ shape of Andromeda. Following the lower line of stars to Mirach and then up to the second star, M31 the Great Galaxy can be found.
Along the Ecliptic is the constellation of Taurus (the Bull). The stick figure representation of Taurus resembles a squashed ‘X’ with the bright orange coloured Red Giant star Aldebaran at its centre. This is a lovely star to look at especially using binoculars or a telescope and does look noticeably orange in colour.
Following the western (right) and Northern (upper) arm of the ‘X’ shape of Taurus guides us to the beautiful Pleiades ‘naked eye’ Open Star Cluster. This bright Open Cluster with its seven brightest stars is known as M45, the Pleiades or ‘Seven Sisters’.
To the east of Taurus along the Ecliptic is the constellation of Gemini (the Twins). The twin stars Castor and Pollux are easy to identify.
Below Gemini is Orion the constellation of the month, last month. Orion is depicted as a hunter with two hunting dogs called Sirius and Procyon. There are two stars that represent Orion’s hunting dogs and they are also called Sirius and Procyon. Sirius and Procyon are the brightest stars in the constellations of Canis Major (the great dog) and Canis Minor (the little dog).
Almost overhead this month is the very distinctive ‘W’ shape of the constellation of Cassiopeia. The central ‘Ʌ’ of the ‘W’ points approximately towards Polaris the ‘Pole’ or ‘North Star’ star. There is a distinct line of stars leading up towards Cassiopeia this is the constellation of Perseus. At the top of the line of stars and about half way to the ‘W’ a ‘fuzzy patch can be seen this is the lovely binocular view ‘Double Cluster’.
There will be a Meteor Shower in the early hours of 3rd January called the Quadrantid Meteor Shower.
There will be a Total Lunar Eclipse visible from the whole of Europe from 03:00 until 06:30 in the early morning of Monday 21st January 2019.
Follow the link below to see to see details about the Lunar Eclipse, the meteor shower and a full ‘Monthly What’s Up’ guide to the night sky:
To see a full version of this article and a guide to the night sky with charts, read the Newbury Astronomical Society (NAS) – Monthly Magazine for Beginners on the NAS website or come along to the next Beginners meeting on Wednesday 16th January 2019, for details click on the link below.
For details visit the NAS website at: www.naasbeginners.co.uk