Sky Chart for January/February 2018
From SEA and SKY at http://www.seasky.org/astronomy/astronomy-calendar-2018.html
- January 1 – Mercury at Greatest Western Elongation. The planet Mercury reaches greatest western elongation of 22.7 degrees from the Sun. This is the best time to view Mercury since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the morning sky. Look for the planet low in the eastern sky just before sunrise.
- January 2 – Full Moon, Supermoon. The Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be will be fully illuminated. This phase occurs at 02:24 UTC. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Wolf Moon because this was the time of year when hungry wolf packs howled outside their camps. This moon has also been know as the Old Moon and the Moon After Yule. This is also the first of two supermoons for 2018. The Moon will be at its closest approach to the Earth and may look slightly larger and brighter than usual.
- January 3, 4 – Quadrantids Meteor Shower. The Quadrantids is an above average shower, with up to 40 meteors per hour at its peak. It is thought to be produced by dust grains left behind by an extinct comet known as 2003 EH1, which was discovered in 2003. The shower runs annually from January 1-5. It peaks this year on the night of the 3rd and morning of the 4th. Unfortunately the nearly full moon will block out all but the brightest meteors this year. If you are patient, you should still be able to catch some of the brightest ones. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Bootes, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
- January 17 – New Moon. The Moon will located on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky. This phase occurs at 02:17 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.
- January 31 – Full Moon, Supermoon, Blue Moon. The Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be will be fully illuminated. This phase occurs at 13:27 UTC. Since this is the second full moon in the same month, it is sometimes referred to as a blue moon. This is also the last of two supermoons for 2018. The Moon will be at its closest approach to the Earth and may look slightly larger and brighter than usual.
- January 31 – Total Lunar Eclipse. A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes completely through the Earth’s dark shadow, or umbra. During this type of eclipse, the Moon will gradually get darker and then take on a rusty or blood red color. The eclipse will be visible throughout most of western North America, eastern Asia, Australia, and the Pacific Ocean. (NASA Map and Eclipse Information)
- February 15 – New Moon. The Moon will located on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky. This phase occurs at 21:05 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.
- February 15 – Partial Solar Eclipse. A partial solar eclipse occurs when the Moon covers only a part of the Sun, sometimes resembling a bite taken out of a cookie. A partial solar eclipse can only be safely observed with a special solar filter or by looking at the Sun’s reflection. This partial eclipse will only be visible in parts of Chile, Argentina, and Antarctica. (NASA Map and Eclipse Information)
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Athabasca full moon chart:
Gavin Pretor-Pinney, The Cloudspotter’s Guide: The Science, History, and Culture of Clouds (Penguin 2006)