North Texas Night Sky in January


Silhouette of ground on night sky | Image by Skylines/Shutterstock

North Texans will have plenty of reasons to look toward the night sky during January.

From glimpses of the International Space Station to sights of a green comet, NASA shared multiple celestial events to look forward to this month. Some of these can be glimpsed with the naked eye, while others will require a telescope or binoculars.

There will be more than one chance to see the International Space Station, which looks like a fast star, NBC 5 reported. The last of these ISS flybys will take place on January 17. The space station rotates at about 17,500 mph around the Earth, and flybys can be glimpsed with the naked eye.

Beginning mid-January, North Texans can observe the Gamma Ursae Minorids meteor shower. Three meteors can be seen each hour near Polaris, the North Star. The shower comes from the Ursa Minor constellation.

The Gamma Ursae Minorids meteor shower is active from January 10 to 22, according to Star Walk. The peak will be on January 19.

“The observing conditions for the γ-Ursae Minorids (Gamma Ursae Minorids) are favorable this year,” Star Walk explained. “The thin lunar crescent won’t outshine the meteors. Feel free to observe the stream on the peak night and later.”

This shower is not yet well studied but is observed by the International Meteor Organization each year. Meteors can be seen with the naked eye but are better glimpsed with a telescope or binoculars.

Several planets can also be seen in the night sky throughout the entire month.

On January 22, Saturn and Venus will appear near each other in the night sky. The planets will appear less than half a degree from each other.

The planet Mercury will also be at its highest point in the night sky during January. This will happen on January 23, just before sunrise, NASA shared. It will sit in this position for a few days.

On January 25, North Texans can see the planet Jupiter and the moon meet. There will be a waxing crescent moon visible under this planet.

The planets Mercury, Saturn, and Venus can be seen with the naked eye or through the use of binoculars and telescopes, according to NASA. They will be most visible after sunset toward the southwest.

North Texans may also glimpse a comet appearing green in color, which was discovered in 2022.

“Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) was discovered by astronomers using the wide-field survey camera at the Zwicky Transient Facility this year in early March,” NASA reported in 2022.

The comet will be closest to Earth on February 1, as The Dallas Express previously reported, but can be seen in the sky on the mornings leading up to this day. It will move northwest through the Northern Hemisphere.

“On a voyage through the inner Solar System, comet 2022 E3 will be at perihelion, its closest to the Sun, in the new year on January 12, and at perigee, its closest to our fair planet, on February 1,” NASA shared.

The comet has not been this close to our planet in 50,000 years. The last time, Neanderthals called the Earth home.

North Texans might be able to spot the comet with their naked eye but can see it better through binoculars or a telescope.

The closest a comet has come to Earth in two centuries was when Comet Hyakutake passed by in 1996. It is expected in the skies again in another 70,000 years.

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