Tour January’s Sky! | January 2nd, 2009

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S&T: Lauren Darby
January offers a wonderful assortment of celestial wonders overhead.

For example, the Quadrantid meteor shower peaks in the first week of each January. This shower gets its name from Quadrans Muralis, an obsolete constellation near the handle of the Big Dipper. The meteors seem to radiate from that point in the sky. In 2009 this short, sharp shower climaxes before dawn on Saturday, January 3rd.

If you’re not a morning person, don’t fret about missing the Quadrantids. The evening skies this winter feature an amazing collection of bright stars — and one awesomely bright planet. They’ll be especially pretty a few days after full Moon, which is January 10th.

Look to the upper left of where the Sun sets, and you’ll have no trouble spotting Venus — it’s almost too bright to seem real. In fact, people unfamiliar with the night sky sometimes mistake Venus for a UFO. Right now Venus is reaching the culmination of an evening showing that will last all winter.

Get all these details and more by downloading January's audio sky tour. It's a 7-megabyte MP3 file that runs 7m 55s.