What’s in the Sky in January


  • At this time of the year the Great Orion Nebula is rising in the East. The Boorong call this constellation Kulkunbulla, a number of young men dancing. Just East of Orion is the brightest star in the sky, Sirius, Alpha Canis major, which also forms the body of Warepil, the Wedge-tailed Eagle, Australia’s largest bird.
  • 3rd Earth is at Perihelion, closest approach to the Sun at 147.09 million km, peri means close, apo means far, and helios means the Sun. Currently occurring about 2 weeks after the December Solstice, the furthest the Sun travels South, the Tropic of Capricorn. In 1246, the December Solstice was on the same day as the Earth reached its perihelion. Since then, the perihelion and aphelion dates have drifted by a day every 58 years. The dates can vary by up to 2 days each year. Image: Nearby Family Photo, view from Uranus early morning 3rd January.


  • 3rd the waning gibbous Moon will be a nuisance for the expected Quadrantid meteor shower (QUA) maximum on January 3rd 14h30m UT – (4th Jan 01:30hrs AEDT), expected ZHR = 120 (can vary ≈ 60–200). The 14h30 UT timing for the peak will be favourable for Eastern Asia, whereas America and Europe should spot the activity increase all along the preceding night. Here in Ballarat the Radiant point doesn’t rise until after 10:30hrs AEDT and so the meteor shower is below the NE-N horizon but it maybe possible to see the end of bright meteors coming from below the horizon (green line).



  • 7th Latest sunset of the Year 20:53hrs AEDT at the Observatory.
  • 11th Mercury, Saturn, Jupiter and distant Pluto are setting just after the Sun. Mercury, Saturn and Jupiter will be in conjunction on 11th June but very low and difficult to see.
  • 10th Lunar Perigee, closest approach for the month 02:34hr AEDT, Dist. 367,391.5km.
  • 15th Hubble Pinpoints Supernova Blast  

Hubble Captures the Supernova Remnant 1E 0102.2-7219

‘The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has observed the supernova remnant named 1E 0102.2-7219. Researchers are using Hubble’s imagery of the remnant object to wind back the clock on the expanding remains of this exploded star in the hope of understanding the supernova event that caused it 1700 years ago.

The featured star that exploded long ago belongs to the Small Magellanic Cloud, (Ed: now high in the evening sky) a satellite galaxy of our Milky Way located roughly 200 000 light-years away. The doomed star left behind an expanding, gaseous corpse — a supernova remnant — known as 1E 0102.2-7219.

Because the gaseous knots in this supernova remnant are moving at different speeds and directions from the supernova explosion, those moving toward Earth are colored blue in this composition and the ones moving away are shown in red. This new Hubble image shows these ribbons of gas speeding away from the explosion site at an average speed of 3.2 million kilometers per hour. At that speed, you could travel to the Moon and back in 15 minutes.

Researchers have studied the Hubble archive looking for visible-light images of the supernova remnant and they have analysed the data to calculate a more accurate estimate of the age and centre of the supernova blast.

According to their new estimates, light from this blast arrived at Earth 1700 years ago, during the decline of the Roman Empire. This supernova would only have been visible to inhabitants of Earth’s southern hemisphere. Unfortunately, there are no known records of this titanic event. Earlier studies proposed explosion dates of 2000 and 1000 years ago, but this new analysis is believed to be more robust.”

  • 22nd Luna Apogee, furthest distance from Earth for the month 01:13hr AEDT 404,358.0km.
  • 24th Saturn in conjunction with the Sun to become a morning object now.
  • 29th Jupiter in conjunction with the Sun to become a morning object now.