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.
  • 2nd Lunar Perigee, closest approach for the month 09:55hr AEDT, Dist. 352,904km.
  • 3rd Perihelion of C/2021 A1 (Leonard) reaches periapse, the point in it’s orbit nearest to the focus of gravitational attraction, the Sun. Image:JBailey Comet Leonard 20 sec.f/2.8 50 mm ISO 3200 Canon EOS 5D Mark lll 21:27hrs AEDT
  • Leonard
  • 4rd Earth is at Perihelion, closest approach to the Sun at 147.1 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.
  • 4th the waning gibbous Moon will be good for the expected Quadrantid meteor shower (QUA) active December 28th to Januaray 12th, maximum on January 3rd 20h40m UT – (4th Jan 07:40hrs AEDT), expected ZHR = 120 (can vary ≈ 60–200).  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 north of Arcturus,below the horizon.
  • 7th Latest sunset of the Year 21:49:25hrs AEDT at the Observatory.
  • 7th Mercury at greatest elongation East 19Degrees East of the Sun, Saturn, Jupiter and distant Pluto are setting just after the Sun.
  • 6th Saturn Setting at 22:23hrs AEDT, dist 1,614,066,381km, mag. 0.7.
  • 6th Jupiter 4 degrees Nth of the Moon, distance 842, 258,288km, mag. -2.1.
  • 14th Luna Apogee, furthest distance from Earth for the month 20:26hr AEDT 405,804.5km.
  • 18th Asteroid (7482) 1994  PC1 was discovered by Robert H. McNaught  on 9th August 1994. 7482 is more than twice the size of the Empire State Building and will come within 1.98 million kilometers of the Earth on January 18, according to NASA. At between 1 and 1.3 kilometers wide, NASA considers asteroid 7482 ‘potentially hazardous,’ with the Davidson Institute of Science calculating asteroids over 140 meters would release at least a thousand times more energy than the first atomic bomb on impact with Earth, while an asteroid over 300 meters could destroy an entire continent. Of course, any chances of such an impact are entirely unlikely, as the closest 7482 is likely to come to Earth is more than five times the distance of that between the Earth and the Moon, and it is also not alone in being a potentially hazardous asteroid passing by this month. Asteroid 2013 YD48 will fly past Earth January 12 around 5.59 million kilometers away, and asteroid 2017 XC62 will pass around 7.2 million kilometers away on January 24. NASA Link to Video about potentially hazardous asteroids)
  • 30th Lunar Perigee, 2nd for the month, and 2nd closest 18:11hr AEDT, Dist. 362,252.4km