Stargazing this time of the year is much easier because nights are now much more than days. Secondly, with the end of summer hours last weekend, it is dark enough to make the watch strangled at 6:00 p.m.
In spite of all this, the best news of this week is the dawn two to three hours before sunrise. Who wants to go to bed before and set the alarm for 3 or 4 in the morning? You will want for the great show this week that takes place on the cervids in the morning, that is, if the clouds do not bomb the sky. Arrange a large glass of coffee, gather, gather a chair of lawns and blankets and prepare to be dazzled. The show is even better in the darkest field, but even if you have to compete with city lights, it's worth getting up.
When you first go out, you just have to sit in a garden chair or adjust yourself to your car and allow your eyes to be used in the dark. You can not stop surprising the great stellar spectacle in the skies of the south of the morning. The fantastic winter constellations set aside that part of the sky. This is the place where "Orion and his gang" come out. Orion the Hunter and its band of surrounding constellations – Taurus the Bull, Gemini the Twins and others – gradually go from the southern sky to the southwest as it approaches the twilight of the morning. I never get tired of seeing these great celestial characters. Although not too winter, Orion and its possessions are considered to be winter constellations because in January, as the Earth continues its orbit around the sun, these shiny bright will be seen in the night sky, then consider seeing them this week A preview of the great sunset that will come.
To know these constellations, download a good star map of the night of January. You can find a good one at skymaponline.net and set it up for the first night in January. Be sure to use a red filter flashlight to see the map so it does not ruin your night vision. Of course, there are many stargazing apps for smart phones available. My favorite is "Sky Guide." In this application you can activate your red phone screen to keep night vision.
While you're taking the beauty of all the bright stars in the early hours of the morning, you'll also see some stars that fire through the celestial dome. They are not really stars, but meteors enter our atmosphere. Later this week and especially this weekend, you are forced to see more meteor than normal. This is because Leonid's annual meteor shower will be reaching the peak. The Leonidas are not the best meteor shower of the year, but we would put them on top level. What makes them attractive this year is that there is no moonlight in the early hours of the morning, which makes a much darker scenario to catch those "falling stars."
Annual weather showers such as Leonidas occur when the Earth in its orbit around the sun devastates debris left by a comet. Comets are more or less "dirty snowballs" of rock and ice that orbit the sun into highly elliptical elongated orbits. When their orbits take us near the sun, they partially detach themselves leaving a band of debris composed of tiny particles of the size of the powder grains on tiny corners on the size of the small marbles.
The comet that feeds the Leonid meteor shower is called Tuttle Temple, which passed through this part of the solar system in 1998 and will not return until 2031. The Earth in its solar orbit is lying to this route from Temple Tuttle to 66,000 mph and, At the same time, these individual comet particles are also moving in their orbit thousands of miles per hour. This means that debris can fall into our atmosphere at speeds greater than 150,000 mph!
With this type of speed, individual particles burn rapidly due to a tremendous friction of air, but the light we see is not because of combustion. It is impossible to see this because these tiny particles are burning anywhere from 50 to 150 miles in height. The reason we see is the bright column of air that is chemically excited by the particle that crosses it. Sometimes, these fringes seem to be different colors, which indicates the type of atmospheric gas that is being provoked temporarily.
The showers of meteors can be seen better after midnight, because it is when it is on the side of the earth turning that it is ruining the remains of comets. It's something like driving the county crossed in a hot summer night. You get more crushed bugs on your windshield than you do in your back window. After midnight, we are facing the "windshield" of the traveling Earth.
Leonid's meteor shower does not have the name of Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev. The Leonidas are called because the meteors seem to emanate from the sky where the Leo constellation Leo is prepared. After midnight, Leo hangs in the eastern sky and looks like a question mark back. This does not mean that you must restrict meteor hunting to only the sky area. If you do lose many of them because meteors can appear anywhere in the sky.
The best way to look at the Leonidas or any other meteor shower is to lie down in a lawn chair with blankets some time after midnight, preferably after 2 or 3 in the morning, roll your eyes around the night sky and see how many meteors which detects at a certain time. It is a fun group or a family activity.
This weekend the first night, the new rising moon will pass next to the bright planet Venus in the low southwestern sky. Later, this week, the first moon room will be really close to the planet Mars in the afternoon sky. On Thursday, the moon will be to the lower right of Mars and, on Friday, Mars will be parked in the upper left corner of the red planet.