A big treat is waiting for amateur astronomers in the beginning of 2014 itself. The Planetary Society, India, has listed five celestial events in the first two weeks of the year.
Planetary Society director and founder secretary N. Sri Raghunandan Kumar said that the Quadrantids Meteor Shower would peak on January 4. The meteor shower gets the name because the shower appears as if it is emerging out of the Bootes Constellation. It was possible to see the shower with the naked eye. The best place and time to see the meteor shower was away from the city lights at 3 a.m. According to the International Meteor Organisation (IMO) 60 to 120 meteors would be visible per hour on the day.
The Quadrantids Meteor shower which was an annual event on this occasion began on December 28 and would continue till January 12. These meteors are actually what is left of comets or huge asteroids that pass through the solar system. The ‘dust’ left behind entered into the earth’s atmosphere and burnt up.
The Constellation Bootes was currently located east of North East, he said.Perihelion
Another celestial event that was going to occur on January 4 is the Perihelion. That is the day when earth is closest to the sun. Earth revolves round the sun in an elliptical orbit. When the sun was at the greatest distance from earth Aphelion occurred. The distance from sun was not the reason for the changing seasons. These days Perihelion was occurring in winter and Aphelion in summer. The tilt in the axis of the earth was what actually caused the change in seasons, he said.Jupiter Opposition
Amateur astronomers could also enjoy the ‘Opposition of Jupiter’ when the earth, sun and Jupiter would be aligned in a straight line opposite each other.
During opposition the planet in question would be at its closest approach and would therefore appear bigger than usual.
Jupiter Opposition occurred every 13 months. Because of the phenomenon viewing of Planet Jupiter was very good till February 6, Mr Kumar said.Inferior Conjunction of Venus
He said that the Inferior Conjunction of Planet Venus would occur on January 11. The phenomenon of Inferior Conjunction occurred when an inferior planet (that which revolves within the orbit of earth) passes between earth and sun.
It was usually impossible to see the planet close to the Inferior Conjunction because it was hidden by the glare of the sun.
After being hidden in the glare of sun for many days the Planet would start becoming visible in early morning skies of 2014, Mr Kumar said.Asteroid to zip past earth
A recently discovered asteroid 2013 YL would zip past earth on January 3 at a safe distance of 13.77 lakh km. The asteroid was discovered as recent as December 23 and the estimated size of the object was 109 metres and would be travelling at a speed of 21 km per second.
This space rock orbits sun once in 470 days, he said.
Those interested in more details could contact Mr Kumar at 9347511132.