Happy New Year Astronomers!
Looking up in the early hours of New Year’s Day, Comet Catalina (a naked-eye object) will pass close to bright orange star Arcturus, in the constellation of Bootes.
Sunday January 3rd is the peak of the Quadrantid meteor shower, look for the radiant below the last bright star of the plough constellation, (the end of the ‘pan handle’ asterism), a zenithal hourly rate of 120, a favourable moon, 32% waning crescent, and clear skies could give a good display.
Venus is a bright beacon in the south-southeast morning sky all this month.
While Jupiter is a very late night or a very early morning object this month, located in Leo, look out for the 4 Galilean moons, Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto, visible with binoculars.
A good binocular or small telescope object this month is Hind’s Crimson Star, in constellation Lepus, found by extending a straight line from Mintaka (in Orion’s belt) through Rigel (Orion’s left foot) to the reddest star in the sky, easily seen in January evenings, it’s colour deepens due to atmospheric pollution as it absorbs the shorter wavelengths of the visual spectrum.
Back on Earth, Stargazing Live on the BBC 12-14th January, catching up with Tim Peake onboard the ISS, find out how Dame Jocelyn Bell-Burnell made the first pulsar discovery back in 1967, and how you can be involved in 2016 searching for new pulsars!