Terry's Sky Notes
JANUARY NIGHT SKY
The brightest star in the winter skies is Sirius - α Canis Majoris A – (RA 06h 43̕ Spec.Type AOmA1) due to being just 8.6 lightyears away. It is around twice the size of our Sun and is actually a binary system with a white dwarf companion B, (Spec.Type DA2), which is about the same size as the Earth. It may have been much larger, about 5x our Sun, but at its stage of life it is thought to have shed most of its mass.
The NASA probe, Voyage2, is due to pass by this binary system within 4.3ly, in the year 300,000 AD.
Sirius and companion Canis Major Constellation
Early this month sees the annual Quadrantids Meteor Shower, between 1-10th Jan, maxim. 3-4th.
Bluish and yellowish-white meteors and fireballs, as many as 120 per hour. Source believed to be asteroid 2003 EH.
Update on December news:
Comet 46P/Wirtanen passed closest to the Earth on 17th - 17th at a distance of around 2.5m miles (4.0m km - 30 lunar distances) on its 5.5 year orbit. (Images – radio & optical)
The W M Keck Observatory on Hawaii, using a newly commissioned near infrared spectrograph device (NIRSPEC) replacing older optical imaging devices, tracked the comets passing.
Chile’s Atacalma Large Millimeter/sub-millimeter Array (ALMA) telescope also allocated viewing time In the comet’s Coma and hydrogen cyanide (carbon-chained molecules) were detected.
These elements are believed to be part of the building block of life.
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