Friday, January 2, 2009

!!! Free Celestial Show !!! -- Quadrantid Meteor Shower Tonight!!!

If you missed or could not see the Celestial Show on New Year's Eve, you have a second chance to witness one of Mother Nature's spectacular sky events!

Tonight, or more correctly at about 3:00 AM EST Saturday morning, there is a chance for glimpsing some falling stars in a spectacular display by the Quadrantid Meteor Shower! With the moon a mere sliver, the sky should be quite dark and show off the meteors very well. So if you are out late Friday night, or up early Saturday morning don't miss this chance to start off the new year by making a big wish on a falling star!

You don't need for tickets to this celestial event, but the best viewing location is with a clear view of the southwestern horizon without buildings, trees or mountains, and as far away from city lights as possible.

On New Year's Eve there was a Lunar Alignment with three planets - Venus, Mercury, and Jupiter. This display of planets and the moon occurred on the southwest horizon just after sunset. The Moon rises a little later each night and now is quite far above the horizon at sunset. I was still able to see Venus Thursday night, but both it and the Mercury-Jupiter pairing were obscured by clouds at sunset. You might still be able to glimpse the pair just above the southwest horizon a little after sunset tonight. Mercury and Jupiter will be the brightest objects in that part of the sky.

Venus is the planet that shines brighter any of the other planets and brighter than most stars (what we call the Morning or Evening Star is actually Venus depending on whether it is shining in the eastern or western half of the sky). Venus will dangle just below the thin crescent moon in the southern sky. It'll be visible and almost impossible to miss just as the sun goes down if the skies are cloud-free in your area.

Just after sunset Mercury and Jupiter can be seen hugging the southwestern horizon (just above where the sun went down) and will be right next to each other. Jupiter is very bright and easy to spot, Mercury is fainter and more difficult to see, but it'll be just to the left of Jupiter. Jupiter and Mercury will set less than an hour after the sun sets, and you will need to time your viewing for just after sunset.

What a great way to begin the new year with these celestial events!

Click here
or on the thumbnail to view
the photo I took New Year's Eve
of the Crescent Moon Over Venus.


birdeeb said...

I miss living in MT only for this reason. Open sky! Northern Lights! Meteor showers! We used to go to Glacier as a family & watch the meteor showers!

MrBill said...

Birdee, seeing the celestial sights from Glacier Nat'l Park must have been fantastic! I have lived all my life in the mountains of Co & NV and the views have been pretty good. There have been times I could get a tiny glimpse of the Aurora Borealis. Some day I will be farther north and get to really see them.