Star By Night
ASTRONOMY

"Epoch for the observation of the Open Clusters"

The new year starts with long and cold nights, but this situation on the other hand gives us a good opportunity to admire the night sky without renouncing to our sleep. The Milky Way of the winter is well visible toward the East, and is crossing the most typical constellations of this season of Auriga, Gemini, Orion and The Great Dog. We are now entering the best epoch for the observation of the Open Clusters, big families of young stars still resisting to the great forces of our galaxy trying to divide them into smaller and smaller pieces. Some of these clusters are close to us, such as the Pleiades and the Hyades, so they are visible with naked eyes – however are much more beautiful with binoculars -, while others, as M35 in Gemini, do require a telescope with tens of magnifications.

Epoch for the observation of the Open Clusters

But we should not miss the famous star nursery of the season, the Great Orion Nebula, which through a telescope seems to be a ghostly cloud with the shape of a butterfly or a dove with the open wings. The Moon is in her First Quarter around the middle of the January, so we have a good opportunity to enjoy the first shooting-star shower of the year, the Quadrantids, in the night between the 3rd and the 4th. Don't forget to wear warm clothes, be patient and look towards the North Pole, with the hope that the clouds will not spoil our night. Clear skies to everybody!

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"Another very important date of the month, and especially for the ones who love the shooting stars, is around the nights of the 13th and 14th, with the most faithful shower of the year...

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