Astro Bob's Backyard Astronomy: Beyond the Cloudy Skies
If the cold hasn't gotten the best of your stargazing, the clouds certainly have.
"We did have northern lights last night," says Bob King, "but it was overcast the entire time." That's been the trend recently. Here's hoping the clouds will be parting in the coming weeks, because there will be plenty to see.
"Venus is now back in the evening sky," says King. "The best time to see it is about half an hour to forty minutes after sunset." Look to the southwest horizon and you'll be able to get a glimpse. The other planets that are readily observable will be in sight as well. Mercury, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are all gathering, just in time for the holidays.
The quadrantid meteor shower should also be on your calendar - if you're an early riser. Between 4-6am on January 4th, 2023 look to skies. We could see as many as 20 meteors per hour in the Northland. If you're wondering about the name, Quadrant is the name of a constellation that's no longer recognized in astronomy circles. "Someone invented that constellation back in the 1800s," says King. "It kind of went out of fashion."
Another geometric image will be very visible as well. Look for the Winter Hexagon in late December and early January. Find Orion's rightmost knee (Rigel) and connect the dots. Aldebaran Capella, Pollux, Procyon, and Sirius will be in a rough hexagonal shape that'll be tough to miss.
Cloudy skies, stay away for a while - there's a lot to see in the cosmos.