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Top 6 Astronomy Events To Watch For: January 2021

Happy New Year, everyone! We’re kicking off 2021 with some phenomenal astronomic events ranging from meteor showers to Mercury's first appearance in the new year. We’ve included the top 6 “can’t miss” events of January that we’re particularly excited about here at TelescopeTek!

Jan 2 – Earth’s Perihelion

Earth's Perihelion

On January 2nd, Earth reaches the point on its orbit closest to the sun. Distance from the Sun’s center to the Earth’s center will be about 91.4 million miles. Your first thought might be that we'll get a relief from the winter cold, but not so! The Earth’s tilted axis is what results in seasonal weather changes, not the Earth’s overall proximity to the sun. During the northern winter, the north pole is tilted away from the Sun, meaning it’s the Southern hemisphere that will feel a slightly warmer weather on this day.

 

Jan 2/3 - Quadrantids Meteor Shower

Quadrantid Meteor Shower

The first meteor shower of 2021 will occur during the late night of the 2nd and early morning on the 3rd. The Quadrantids Meteor Shower will offer a stunning 40 meteors per hour at its peak! Meteors will radiate from constellation Bootes, close to the Big Dipper, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

Jan 10 – First Appearance of Mercury in 2021

Mercury will be making its first appearance of 2021 the night of Jan 10th. Look in the low, western horizon after sunset and Mercury will be visible in a triangle formation along with Jupiter and Saturn. Over the next few days, Mercury will continue to rise higher in the sky while Jupiter and Saturn will fall low out of sight. For the best view on this night, binoculars or a telescope are recommended.

Jan 13 – New Moon

The new moon will not be visible to the naked eye on Jan 13th. This makes it the best time of the month to break out your telescopes and observe faint objects because there won’t be any moonlight interference!

Jan 24 – Mercury at Greatest Eastern Elongation

Mercury will reach its greatest eastern elongation, 18.6 degrees east of the Sun, the evening of Jan 24th. Look for Mercury low in the western sky just after sunset and as the night grows darker, you’ll likely see the stars Fomalhaut and Altair flanking on each side.

 

Jan 28 – Full Moon

This January moon was also known as the Wolf Moon by early Native American tribes because this is the time of year when hungry wolf packs howled outside their camps. Its face will be fully illuminated.

 

What astronomic event are you most excited for this year? Share your answers in the comments below!

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