What’s Up: January 2020 Skywatching Tips from NASA


[lively music] [Narrator] What’s Up
for January? Morning meteors, Mars meets its “rival,” and the Moon comes around for another visit with Venus. The early morning of
January 4th brings the peak of the Quadrantid
meteor shower. This annual shower can be one of
the better ones of the year, although it has a
much shorter peak than most other meteor showers━- just a few hours
versus a day or two. The visibility of meteor
showers from year to year has a lot to do with whether
there’s a bright Moon in the sky at the time or not. This year, the Moon will set
soon after midnight local time, meaning viewing conditions
should be good, provided your local skies are
not obscured by winter weather. Face toward the northeast
between midnight and dawn to see as many as two dozen meteors per
hour under dark skies. (And the farther away you
get from city lights, the darker it’ll be.) So bundle up, and be sure to give your eyes a little time to
adapt to the dark, including a break from
your mobile device, in order to see the maximum
number of meteors. [whoosh] Mars rises before dawn during
January with its “rival,” the red giant star Antares. The name of this star translates as “rival to Mars”
in ancient Greek, and the star rivals the
Red Planet’s appearance to the unaided eye, both in
color and brightness. In reality, Antares is way, way bigger than Mars. In fact, it’s much bigger
than the orbit of Mars. It’s about 10,000 times
brighter than our Sun, but it’s also 16
million times farther away from us than Mars is, so, like all stars, even though it’s really bright, it appears as just a tiny, flickering point of light
in the night sky. You can view the pair
low in the southeast, about an hour before
sunrise each morning. Near the beginning of January,
Mars appears above Antares. As the days progress, the planet moves lower and
to the East of Antares. They’re joined by a slim lunar
crescent on January 20th for what should be a
very pretty grouping. [whoosh] And as we start 2020, NASA’s
looking forward to the launch of the Mars
2020 rover mission. It’s slated to blast off in July
to seek signs of ancient life in a fossilized river delta
on the Red Planet. [whoosh] Closing out the month, the
crescent Moon and Venus once again make a gorgeous sight
at the end of January, on the same day of the month as they did
back in December. On January 28th, you’ll find the
pair hovering in the southwest in the hour or so after
sunset that evening, so be sure to go out
and take a look. [whoosh] Here are the phases of
the Moon for January. You can catch up on all of
NASA’s current and future missions at nasa.gov. I’m Preston Dyches from NASA’s
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and that’s What’s Up
for this month.