Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Sunday, January 1, 2017

January stargazing

If you can see the sky this winter...

Charonian Chapeau

An enhanced-color image of Charon, the largest moon of Pluto, snapped by the New Horizons probe, reveals a reddish cap at its north pole. The material at the pole probably contains methane from the surface of Pluto that has been altered by exposure to sunlight. [NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI]

Stargazing Summary
Some of the brightest stars in the sky decorate the long, cold nights of January. Beautiful Orion is in view almost all night, trailed by Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky. All five planets that are visible to the unaided eye are in view as well, adding to the beauty of winter nights.

More stargazing information

Radio Program Highlights
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January 2-8: Headin for space. Astronauts head for space all the time, but there's no strict definition that tells them when they get there. Join us for the edge of space, plus why the night sky is dark and much more.

January 9-15: Galactic neighborhood. Our home galaxy, the Milky Way, belongs to a collection of dozens of galaxies known as the Local Group, and we'll have details. We'll also talk about what's beyond the Local Group and much more.

January 16-22: Stars that go "boom." Some stars end their lives with titanic explosions, but not all of those blasts are alike. We'll talk about the biggest explosions yet seen, plus some stars that produce big outbursts of radio waves.

January 23-29: The giraffe. The constellation Camelopardalis, the giraffe, isn't much to look at with the eye alone. But binoculars and telescopes reveal some celestial treasures there, and we'll tell you about a few of them. Join us for the giraffe and more.

January 30-February 5: Moon meanderings. The Moon passes several bright points of light in the night sky this week, including the planets Venus and Mars, and the star Aldebaran, the "eye" of the bull. Join us for the Moon and its companions, plus much more.

Program schedule »

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This Month in StarDate Magazine
Our next issue is the 2017 Sky Almanac. We'll bring you a year's worth of skywatching tips, skymaps, anniversaries in astronomy and space flight, and more.

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News from the Observatory
Betelgeuse Spinning Too Fast; May Have Swallowed Companion
Astronomer J. Craig Wheeler of The University of Texas at Austin thinks that Betelgeuse, the bright red star marking the shoulder of Orion, the hunter, may have had a past that is more interesting than meets the eye. Working with an international group of undergraduate students, Wheeler has found evidence that the red supergiant star may have been born with a companion star, and later swallowed that star. The research is published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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About SkyTips
SkyTips is a monthly email newsletter for visitors to McDonald Observatory and StarDate Online. Each issue features stargazing highlights, upcoming StarDate radio program descriptions, and other news. Please feel free to forward this newsletter to your friends and family.

SkyTips is a publication of the University of Texas McDonald Observatory Education and Outreach Office, 2515 Speedway C1402, Austin, TX 78712. Reproduction of SkyTips content is permitted with proper credit given to McDonald Observatory.

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