Winter Experience #1 – Sky Shine

On a clear winter night, with my breath sending a cloud of fog out into the darkness, nothing is more delightful than staring up into the starry sky. (Especially when I know a hot cup of cocoa waits for me inside the house!)

These long, dark winter nights are wonderful for stargazing. This weekend, we are blessed with a gorgeous full moon, which makes the starlight a little dimmer. But, this is the month to take a few minutes every evening and take a gander up at the sky. (Gander is an Oklahoma word meaning ‘a look.’)

Here’s what you can expect for the next week:

MarsJupiterEvenings. Mars and Jupiter can be seen in the evening sky.

MercuryVenusSaturnMornings. Venus and Saturn can be seen together in the morning sky through mid-February.

Perihelion. On January 2 at 5:00 UTC, Earth reaches its closest orbital point to the Sun for this year: 91.4 million miles. Earth is 3.1 millioin miles closer to the Sun at perihelion than where it is at its farthest point (aphelion) on July 5.

MercuryLeavesMornings. Mercury exits the morning sky on January 2.

Quadrantids. This meteor shower peaks around January 3. Reaching up to 40 meteors per hour, this is one of the more spectacular showers of the year.

Milky Way. On a starry night, you may notice a flowing river of soft light in the sky. This is the Milky Way, an area of our universe filled with billions of stars far, far away in space.

Gemini and Orion are two constellations visible on either side of the Milky Way. Orion is commonly called Orion’s Belts and is made up of seven stars which form a splayed H with three stars in the belt. Gemini is made up of two twin stars on the opposite side of the Milky Way from Orion.

Sirius is the brightest star visible in the Milky Way, while Procyon and Capella are two other fairly bright stars.

Happy Stargazing!

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