On New Year’s Day comet C/2013/US10 “Catalina” (discovered at Halloween in 2013 by the Catalina Observatory near Tucson) will be beside the bright star Arcturus moving north toward the tail of the big dipper, where it will be around January 15. One that night one can see both the comet and the Pinwheel Galaxy (M101) in the same field of view with a pair of binoculars. The comet Catalina orbits in a path inclined 149 degrees off the ecliptic, and is thought to be a first time visitor from the Oort cloud. It is on a hyperbolic orbit, so once it swings past the sun it will be shot back out into space, never to be seen again.
Also on New Years in the evening Mercury will be low in the Western sky. By the end of the month it will become a morning “star”, having moved past the sun. The other planet in the evening sky is Jupiter, which rises about 11 PM early in the month in the constellation Leo.
On January 4 the Quadrantid meteor shower peaks. There is a lot of activity in the early morning hours in early January. On 3 January the Moon is only 3 degrees to the right of Mars, with Venus approaching Saturn. In the morning of January 6 Venus and Saturn will be only 3 degrees apart with the thin crescent Moon nearby. On the mornings of 8 and 9 January Venus will only be a half degree away from Saturn: Venus will be the brighter of the two (magnitude -4.0 with Saturn at 0.5).
At 7:30 PM, 8 January 2016, at the Sunshine Coast Art Centre, 5714 Medusa St., Sechelt, The Sunshine Coast Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada features astrophysicist and TV personality Dr. Jaimie Matthews. Donations are gratefully accepted at the door.
Our SCC Observatory is open for public viewing on 9 January, weather permitting. Check our website for updates and schedules: www.coastastronomy.ca