Yeah, baby. 2012 is the year for love.
This month, the planet Venus, named after the Roman goddess of love, will take on centre stage as the brightest planet. It can be seen during early evening in the south western sky. On Boxing Day it already put on a spectacular show as it approached the moon.
Venus, which is the second planet from the sun, can be seen between 6-7 pm. Like the moon, it has phases which can be seen through a telescope.
High in the southwestern sky is Jupiter the second brightest planet in the sky. As the month progresses Venus moves closer to Jupiter and will pass each other in March.
Venus will continue to put on a show throughout the year. The biggest event will be the transit of Venus across the face of the sun on June 5. This event has been recorded only six times throughout history because it happens twice per century. The next time will be 2117.
Mercury is low in the south eastern morning sky during twilight and is lost in the sun mid-month.
Mars rises in the east during mid evening and is in the south west at dawn.
Saturn rises in the east after midnight. Uranus is in the south west during evening twilight and sets in the west around 10 p.m. Neptune is low in the south west after evening twilight.
Jan. 1: First quarter moon
Jan. 2: Tonight there is a beautiful pairing of the moon with Jupiter just below it. You can’t miss it.
Jan. 3-4: The Quadrantids Meteor Shower peaks and can be seen after midnight in the north. From a dark location you could see 40 meteors per hour. Some are visible Jan. 1-5.
Jan. 4: The Earth is at perihelion or closets to the sun for the year at 147,097,334 kilometres.
Jan. 9: The full moon is called the Wolf Moon.
Jan. 13: Hamilton Amateur Astronomers meeting at 7:30 p.m., Hamilton Spectator auditorium, 44 Frid St. Free admission with door prizes. An optional donation of non-perishable goods will be collected for local food banks.
Jan. 16: The quarter moon will form a triangle with Saturn and the star Spica in the predawn sky.
Jan. 17: The moon is at perigee or closets to the Earth this month at 369,882 kilometres.
Jan. 25: Venus pairs up with the crescent moon in the west 6-7 p.m. to celebrate Robbie Burns Day.
Jan. 30: This month’s extra quarter moon is at apogee or furthest from the Earth at 404,324 kilometres.
For more information, please see the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers website at www.amateurastronomy.org or call 905-627-4323. Mario Carr, the author of this report, is the club’s director of public education and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.