It is the end of the International Year of Astronomy 2009. In the show we bring you some of our highlights of the year which celebrated 400 years of the astronomical telescope. We have an interview with Nancy Atkinson about the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast, Jen visits the infamous AstroBunker to talk to Newbury Astronomical Society, and we ask Carolina Ödman about Universe Awareness. As ever we have the latest astronomical news, and what you can see in the January night sky.
In the news this month: ...to come.
365 Days of Astronomy
Nancy Atkinson (Universe Today) gives us a round-up of the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast - the official podcast of the International Year of Astronomy. The podcast was unique in that it was a daily podcast and has been created by many different listeners from all around the world. Nancy tells us about some of her favourite episodes and tells us that it will continue into 2010. There are still over 100 days free in 2010 so if you have an idea for an episode, head over to the website and sign up.
Nancy also talks briefly about her work at Universe Today.
Jen went to Newbury to talk to Adrian West and Nicky and Richard Fleet from the Newbury Astronomical Society about how they helped to bring astronomy to Twitter in the International Year of Astronomy. Through Twitter, @NewburyAS helped to bring almost real-time images and videos of the Moon, planets and meteors into people's homes across the world in their MoonWatch and MeteorWatch events. We hear about how it all got started, why they think it was so successful and are reassured that they will be back in 2010 with bigger and better events!
Back in August 2006 we talked to Carolina Ödman about Universe Awareness whilst she was at the General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union. Carolina tells us about the organisation's aims to use the beauty of astronomy and the Universe to stimulate young children in underprivileged environments. Universe Awareness has grown tremendously and now includes 38 participating countries. This year has even seen astronomy and universe awareness be included on the primary school curriculum in Uruguay.
The Night Sky
Ian Morison tells us what we can see in the night sky during January 2010.
Looking to the south in the mid-evening we can see Orion the Hunter with three stars forming his belt. Just below the belt is the Orion Nebula - the sword of Orion. The three stars of the belt are good pointers. If you go up to the right you reach Taurus the Bull and the Hyades Cluster. Going beyond the Hyades you reach the Pleiades. Above Taurus is Auriga with Capella at its top. Up to the left of Orion is the giant star Betelgeuse. Carrying on up to the left you reach the constellation of Gemini with Procyon in Canis Minor down to the left.
- Jupiter is still in Capricornus but sets by about 7.30 pm in mid January. The magnitude is about -2.
- Saturn rises by 10.30 pm by the middle of the month and transits at 5 am at an elevation of ~39 degrees. A small telescope will easily show its brightest satellite, Titan at magnitude 7.8.
- Mercury passes in front of the Sun - called inferior conjunction - on the 4th of January but reappears in the pre-dawn sky by the middle of the month. It is not its best apparition!
- Mars is now prominent in the evening sky, rising soon after sunset at the begining of the month. It will be well up in the south and thus highest in the sky around midnight. It crossed from the constellation Cancer into Leo on the first of December and continued to move eastwards into Leo until December 20th when it begins its retrograde path westwards and returns into Cancer on January 9th.
- Venus is passing behind the Sun during January and is at Superior Conjunction (when it lies behind the Sun) on January 11th. We will have to wait until the middle of February before we will have a reasonable chance of spotting it in the evening sky after sunset.
- The early morning of Jan 4th will give us the chance, if clear, of observing the Quadrantid meteor shower. The shower is expected to peak on the morning of the 4th of January at about 5 am. Sadly this year, we are not best placed to observe them as the Moon is just 4 days after full and so brightening the sky.
- On the 11th of January, Rhea, at magnitude +9.7 is close to Titan, at magnitude +8. Titan is easily seen in a small telescpe, but a 150mm telescope or more will be needed to see Rhea. Dione, close to the rings on the side of Titan, may also be spotted at magnitude 10.4, but close by Mimas, at magnitude 12.9 and, on the opposite side of Saturn, Enceladus at magnitude 11.7 will require an 8 to 10 inch scope.
- January and February are the best months to observe Mars for a couple of years as the Earth passes between Mars and the Sun on January 29th. Closest approach is on 27th Jan at a distance of nearly 100 million kilometres when its magnitude will be -1.3.
Close to the Small Magellanic Cloud is globular cluster 47 Tuc. It is normally regarded as the second brightest globular cluster in the sky, second to Omega Centauri. However there is some doubt that Omega Centauri may be the nucleus of a galaxy whose outer parts have been stripped off. 47 Tuc dates from the time our Galaxy formed. On the Jodrell Bank website you can hear sounds of pulsars found within 47 Tuc.
|Noticias en Español - Enero 2010:||Lizette Ramirez|
|Interview:||Nancy Atkinson and Stuart Lowe|
|Interview:||Adrian West, Nicky Fleet, Richard Fleet and Jen Gupta|
|Interview:||Carolina Ödman and Stuart Lowe|
|Night sky this month:||Ian Morison|
|Presenters:||David Ault, Megan Argo, Jen Gupta, and Stuart Lowe|
|Intro script:||David Ault|
|Segment voice:||Kerry Hebden|
|Cover art:||The IYA logo Credit: International Year of Astronomy 2009|