(WVNS) — A new year brings a new Space Talk w/ Bradley! Each month StormTracker59 Meteorologist Bradley Wells details all things space! From meteor showers to comets, planet conjunctions, space facts, stargazing guides, and more! Be sure to bookmark this page to never miss an event!
The following events are marked as follows for your convenience.
NAKED EYE EVENT: The event is visible without binoculars or telescopes in dark sky conditions.
TELESCOPE EVENT: The event is enhanced by/requires a hobby telescope or binoculars
LARGE TELESCOPE EVENT: A large (8-10 inch) professional telescope is required for the event.
JANUARY 2023 MOON CALENDAR:
PLANETS VISIBLE THIS MONTH:
Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Neptune, Jupiter, Uranus, and Mars. Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Jupiter, & Mars are easily seen with the naked eye, but for Neptune and Uranus, a telescope is required.
KEY EVENTS THIS MONTH:
JANUARY 3rd – QUADRANTIDS METEOR SHOWER – NAKED EYE EVENT: One of the years best meteor showers will peak the night of the 3rd into the morning of the 4th. While best viewing is 2 hour before sunrise, meteors from the debris field of a rocky meteor/comet 2003 EHI can be observed from December 28th through January 12th. However, the peak on January 3rd is forecasted to have over 100 meteors per hour! With our full moon just a few days away, the brightest 40 or so per hour, in dark skies, will be visible for our region. Meteors will be viewable in any direction but will appear to radiate from the northeast sky, north of the star Vega in the Lyra constellation from midnight to sunrise. The Quadrantids Meteor Showers has been known to produce bright fireballs in the past.
JANUARY 6th – WOLF MOON – NAKED EYE EVENT: The January full moon rises around 5pm in the evening and will set the following morning. Called the Wolf Moon by many Native American tribes, Colonial and European settlers, it was believed that wolves howled more often in January due to winter hunger. However, wolves howl for many reason including territorial displays, mating, and general communication of threats in the area. The January full moon also goes by the names Cold Moon, Freeze Up Moon, and Hard Moon for obvious reason. January is simply cold!
JANUARY 9th to 12th – WISH APON A FALLING STAR – TELESCOPE EVENT: Small hobby telescopes or binoculars will be needed to spot the first comet of the year! Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is expected to reach the 6th magnitude or bright enough for binocular viewing. The comet will be with us all month long as it makes its way around our sun.
JANUARY 14th – HALF MOON- NAKED EYE EVENT: As moonlight fades, skies become darker making stargazing a bit easier. As the next week unfolds and the moon fades, taking to the skies with your telescope to find a comet, planet, or simply to spot some mountain ranges on the moon will be a treat! If, that is, winter temperatures don’t get to harsh.
JANUARY 18th -21st – COMET WATCH – NAKED EYE EVENT: By this time of the month, Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) will be a touch brighter as it gets closer to our sun. While not expecting a large tail to form, gases will start to escape from to comet surface making it just bright enough to appear as a smudge on the night sky. The darker your sky, away from city lights, the better your chances. However, binoculars or small telescope will help you view more details. With just a sliver of a moon left, at least moonlight won’t be a hinderance.
JANUARY 21st – NEW YEAR, NEW MOON – NAKED EYE EVENT: Our new moon will provide a great dark night sky for skygazing! Head out and see if you can spot any of the planets in our night sky. Telescope users should start getting a great display of our nightly comet friend the next few nights.
JANUARY 23rd – CRESENT MOON, VENUS & SATURN- NAKED EYE EVENT: As our moon comes back to life, on this night it will meet up with our sister planet, Venus and the Ringed Planet Saturn. The three will dance close together for 2 hours before sunset giving stargazers an easy reference point to find both planets. Venus will look like a bright star and Saturn will be slightly smaller and dimmer next to our emerging moon.
JANUARY 24th – ‘TAIL’ AS OLD A COMETS – NAKED EYE EVENT: Our celestial friend, Comet P/2022 E3 (ZFT), is continuing its trek to the sun. The closer the comet gets to the sun the more gas and debris get thrown out into space. If projections hold true, on or about this night, for a very short time, a blue tail is expected to form behind the comet. Only expected to last a few hours, stargazers will have to be quick and vigilant to spot this cool event. Good Luck! Better bet would to still use binoculars or small telescope. After this night, the comet will start to race away from our solar system getting darker and harder to spot until it fades back into the darkness of space.
JANUARY 24th – CHANGING OUT THE GAURD – NAKED EYE EVENT: The moon will find a new partner in the night sky joining forces with Jupiter. One of the brightest objects in the sky, Jupiter will be easy to spot next to our moon. A great night to photographers to capture the conjunction on a winter landscape.
JANUARY 30th – NEW DANCING PARTNER – NAKED EYE EVENT: The life of the night sky party, our moon, mingles with the Red Planet, Mars this night. Mars will look like a faint red star easily spotted following our moon. A great reference point to find the only planet entirely inhabited by robots in our solar system.
JANUARY 4th – EARTH AT PERIHELION: Earth will reach its closest position to the sun in our orbit. Known as our Perihelion, the Earth will be 91.4 million miles away from our star at 11:17 A.M. EST. After which we will start to move away from our Sun in our orbit until July when we reach Aphelion, or our farthest point away, roughly 94.5 million miles. Wild to think the closer we are to our sun the colder we get, right? When dealing with our planets position in space, our tilt towards or away from our sun plays a bigger part than our distance from it. We may be closer to the sun but the Northern Hemisphere is tilted away giving us winter.
INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION FLY OVERS
MONDAY, JANUARY 2nd:
Look north-northwest just above the horizon. Fly over starts at 6:53 AM and lasts 6 minutes across the northwest horizon
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 4th:
Look north-west just above the horizon. Fly over starts at 6:54 AM and lasts 6 minutes from northwest to southeast overhead.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 6th:
Look west-northwest near the horizon. Fly over starts at 6:54 AM and lasts for 5 minutes from the west-northwest to the south-southeast along the horizon.