Sunday, 13 January 2019

Lots going on in the skies: Mars, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn and a lunar eclipse...

The next few days will be an exciting time for naked eye astronomers - if the skies are clear!
Tonight the Moon and Mars were quite close together in the western sky, but over the next week Jupiter and Venus will get closer and closer in the south-eastern pre-dawn sky: a truly spectacular conjunction of the two brightest planets. Then, on the morning of the 21st, the Moon will enter the earth's shadow and be eclipsed, becoming a classic 'blood Moon'. Totality will be visible (clouds permitting!) from 04.40 until 05.40, so you'll need to set your alarm clocks!

Also worth looking out for the beautiful winter constellation of Orion (picture below) His 'sword' hanging down from the three stars of his belt is a fascinating sight through even a small 'scope, containing as it does the bright Orion Nebula. This cloud of gas and dust is probably a region of new star formation...




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