Venus And Saturn On ‘Collision-course’ Conjunction

On Wednesday morning, Jan. 6th, a lovely crescent joins Venus and Saturn in Scorpius not far from its brightest star, Antares. Source: Stellarium
On Wednesday morning, Jan. 6th, a lovely crescent joins Venus and Saturn in Scorpius not far from its brightest star, Antares. Source: Stellarium

If you’ve been up at dawn this past week, you may have noticed a new planet in the morning sky. Saturn, King of the Rings, has returned! You can spot it about 60 to 75 minutes  before sunrise low in the southeastern sky a few degrees from brilliant Venus in Scorpius the Scorpion.

You’ll also notice fiery Antares twinkling away below the placid pair. On Wednesday at dawn, watch for the crescent moon to join the pretty scene; Venus and Saturn will be just 2.5° apart (a little more than two ‘pinkie’ widths) and the moon three fingers or 5° to their upper right.

While we’ll lose the moon after Thursday, the drama intensifies as Venus and Saturn quickly approach one other. On Friday and Saturday, they’ll be only about 1/10° apart or one-third the width of the full moon – very close! Be sure you mark your calendar. I’ll have more about the event in Thursday’s blog.

The scene on Saturday morning, Jan. 9th, when the planets will be closest for North and South American observers. Source: Stellarium
The scene on Saturday morning, Jan. 9th, when the planets will be closest for North and South American observers. Source: Stellarium

Were you up early this morning head turned skyward hopeful for a meteor to flash by? We cleared off in northern Minnesota just in time for a good look at the annual Quadrantid meteor shower. I kept an eye on the sky off and on while observing comets and clusters and saw good activity early on.

The night started with a bang at 11 p.m. when a bright, white Quad fireball tore across half the sky before burning out in Orion. I saw a few other moderately bright meteors over the next couple hours, but most were faint. Activity seemed to peak around 1 a.m. CST. when the radiant still hovered low in the northeastern sky. At one point, three short-trailed meteors in a row spurted out of Bootes head one right after the other.

But at the forecast 2 a.m. CST peak (3 a.m. EST, 1 a.m. MST, midnight PST) I saw next to nothing. Frozen by 2:15, I went back inside to thaw out and watched from the front window till 3.

I hope you saw quadruple the number of meteors I saw, which wouldn’t have been hard because you probably paid attention the whole time 😉

4 Responses

  1. caralex

    Oh, lord, Bob! You’ll have all the nutters having conniption fits with your ‘collision-course’ headline! How could you taunt them so? 😛

    1. Nutters ? I’m not sure how to get rid of squirrels, but a sure way to get skunks off to think of other objectives is to paint a neat white stripe on a black cat.
      Sure works on moi 😉

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