A Diamond for Mom

   About an hour after local sunset go outside and face south and look for the planet Saturn above the southeast horizon. Then look up to the right for the bluish-white colored star Spica.
   Spica, a star in Virgo the Harvest Maiden, marks the lower corner of the asterism known as ‘the Diamond of Virgo’. To see the asterism look up to the left from Spica for the reddish star Arcturus in the kite-shaped constellation Bootes the Herdsman. Then look nearly straight up, the zenith, for the dimmest of the diamond stars, Cor Caroli in Canes Venatici, the Hunting Dogs. Then look down to the right for the star Denebola, the tail of Leo the Lion.

   This evening also treat her to a look at Venus, Jupiter, and the waxing crescent Moon over the western horizon. See my post from yesterday for more about this.

   Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information.

Quadrantids Meteor Shower

3 January - 4:00 a.m. CST

3 January – 4:00 a.m. CST

   There has been an increase in news noise about viewing the Quadrantid Meteor Shower during the early hours of tomorrow (Thursday) morning. But none have mentioned that the Moon also rises at about the same time as the radiant for the meteor shower, and that reflected light from the waning gibbous Moon will ‘drown’ out all but the brightest of the meteors. Sigh!!!
   However the average hourly rate for this meteor shower ranges from 60 to several hundred so I think there are good odds that some meteors will still be seen despite the interference from moonlight. To maximize the viewing wait until about an hour or so before dawn when the radiant is high above the horizon, then face northward putting the Moon behind you.
Boötes the Herdsman

Boötes the Herdsman

   The radiant is the area from where the meteors seem to radiate outward from. Meteor showers owe their name to the constellation region the radiant is located within and as this graphic shows the radiant is within the boundary of the constellation Boötes the Herdsman. So why the name Quadrantids?
   On some of the older star charts there is a now ‘extinct’ constellation called Quadrans Muralis, the Mural. This was a constellation located between Boötes and Draco the Dragon that was created in 1795 by French Astronomer Jérôme Lalande. The Meteor Shower was named for the no longer used constellation.

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for more observing information.