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    Articles > January 2004
 
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Celestial Delights

Both an introduction to Astronomy and a calendar of upcoming celestial events to 2010, this layperson's guide forecasts and explains numerous celestial phenomena in lucid writing and easy-to-grasp diagrams. Specially written for urban skywatchers, Celestial Delights deepens our appreciation of what we see when we look up into the night sky, and inspires us to do so more often.
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Skywatcher's Calendar
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The Monthly Sky Guide



  Sky Calendar -- January 2004
1 Saturn at opposition.Visible all night long, the ringed planet is at its closest (disk diameter 20.7") and brightest (mag. ­0.5) in 30 years. Its rings remain at near their maximum tilt offering some of the best views ever, even in a small telescope. A glorious sight that should not be missed! Contact your local Astronomy club for details of their next sky viewing night.
3 Moon near the Pleiades at 19h UT (evening sky).
3 Moon at apogee (furthest from Earth) at 20h UT (distance 405,707 km; angular size 29.5').
4 Quadrantid Meteor Shower peaks at 7h UT. Produces faint medium-speed meteors between late December and early January. Most activity occurs during a sharp peak on the night of January 3-4 (40 to 100 meteors/hour). The only major shower whose parent comet remains unknown. Radiant is in northern Boötes. Moonlight interferes.
4 Earth at Perihelion (closest to Sun) at 18h UT. The Sun-Earth distance is 0.983265 a.u. or about 147.1 million kilometers.
7 Moon near Saturn at 0h UT (evening sky).
7 Full Moon at 15:41 UT. The full Moon of January is called the "Old Moon" or the "Moon After Yule" in old almanacs.
9 Moon near the Beehive cluster (M44) at 7h UT (morning sky). Binoculars provide excellent view.
12 Moon near Jupiter at 14h UT (morning sky).
15 Last Quarter Moon at 4:47 UT.
15 Venus 0.87° from Uranus at 7h UT (evening sky). Magnitudes ­4.0 (Venus) and +5.9 (Uranus).
17 Mercury at greatest elongation, 24° west from the Sun (morning sky) at 9h UT. Mercury (mag. ­0.2) visible low in the southeast about about 45 minutes before sunrise.
18 Moon near Antares at 10h UT (morning sky).
19 Moon at perigee (closest to Earth) at 19h UT (distance 362,770 km; angular size 32.9').
21 New Moon at 21:06 UT. Beginning of lunation 1003.
24 Moon near Venus at 19h UT (38° from Sun, evening sky).
28 Moon near Mars at 5h UT (evening sky). Mars at mag. +0.7.
29 First Quarter Moon at 6:04 UT.
31 Moon near the Pleiades at 2h UT (evening sky).
31 Moon at apogee (furthest from Earth) at 14h UT (distance 404,807 km; angular size 29.5').
All times Universal Time (UT). (USA Eastern Standard Time = UT ­ 5 hours)

Clear skies till next month!

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