Quadrantid meteors January 3-4, a West Coast-favoring total lunar eclipse, and time to start watching Mars!


What's Up for January? The new year's first meteor shower fizzles, Mars meets Jupiter in the morning sky, and the U.S. will enjoy a total lunar eclipse.

Hello and welcome. I'm Jane Houston Jones from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

in Pasadena, California.

Most meteor showers radiate from recognizable constellations. Like the Leonids, Geminids, and Orionids. But the Quadrantids are meteors that appear to radiate from the location of the former Quadrans Muralis constellation, an area that's now part of the constellation Bootes.

The Quadrantids' peak lasts for just a few hours, and sadly, this year their timing coincides with a very bright, nearly full moon that will wash out most of the meteors.

You can look in any direction to see all the meteor showers. When you see one of these meteors hold a shoestring along the path it followed. The shoestring will lead you back to the constellation containing the meteor's radiant.

On the morning of January 6th, look in the south-southeast sky 45 minutes before sunrise to see Jupiter and fainter Mars almost as close as last month's Jupiter and Venus close pairing. Mars is only one-sixth the apparent diameter of Jupiter, but the two offer a great binocular and telescopic view with a pretty color contrast. They remain in each other's neighborhood from January 5th through the 8th.

Finally, to end the month, a great total lunar eclipse favors the western U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii and British Columbia on January 31st. Australia and the Pacific Ocean

are well placed to see a major portion of the eclipse--if not all of it.

There will be one more lunar eclipse this year, but it will be visible only from central Africa and central Asia.

You can find out about all of NASA's missions at: www.nasa.gov

That's all for this month. I'm Jane Houston Jones.

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