Happy New Year to all readers!
Jupiter continues to be an amazing sight throughout this month, rising within an hour of dusk and dominating the eastern evening sky at Mag -2.5. I never tire of watching with naked eye, and binoculars or telescope will reveal the four brightest moons as well as some surface detail on the planet. At the very acceptable hour of quarter to eight on the evening of the 27th, two of those moons will cast their shadows as tiny dots on the planet’s surface, but you’ll need plenty of magnification to catch them.
Before dawn on the 24th there will be three shadows and three moon transits, in various combinations, from about 5am. One for the diehards!
A couple of years ago, I was collecting wide-angle photos of Ceres to assemble into a time-lapse video showing the dwarf planet’s movement against the stars in the constellation of Gemini. Although it didn’t work out (only three frames because of clouds!), I discovered the beautiful globular cluster M35 around one of Gemini’s feet. Gemini reaches around 60º elevation this month, transiting mid-evening, making it an ideal target for photography. It will still be around next month too. Here is the constellation of Gemini with M35 as seen in a DSLR with a 50mm lens:
Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy)
Another comet is in the northern hemisphere sky this month, and EAS Secretary Stuart Atkinson has prepared this fabulous observing guide for the month. Lovejoy is already bright enough to be just (but only just) visible with the naked eye, and moving higher each night towards over 70º by the end of the month. Take a look at Stuart’s guide, grab your binoculars and get out there!