Happy New Year, everyone! Check out the sky events for January 2022 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), to help you plan your stargazing experience this month. All dates and times are in UAE Local Time (UTC+4).
To help you get a clearer and bigger view of our neighbors in the Solar System, as well as some stunning deep-sky objects like nebulae and galaxies that pop out better on moonless nights, a telescope or binoculars can come in handy—like the smart telescope Stellina. Al Sadeem Astronomy is the only distributor of this smart telescope here in the Middle East. You can place an order or inquiry here.
January 3 – Comet C/2021 A1 (Leonard) at perihelion
The brightest comet of 2021 is making its closest approach to the Sun on January 3, 2022.
That means Comet C/2021 A1 (Leonard) is going to be even brighter and may be a spectacle to remember before it gets ejected from our Solar System, never to be seen again.
Comets are icy space rocks and when they get too close to the Sun the ice particles evaporate, forming a more distinct coma and the tail.
Comet Leonard has blessed the UAE skies with its intensity throughout December, allowing astrophotographers and professional astronomers to observe the rare visitor that strayed from the Oort cloud, a vast area in our Solar System where experts believe comets and other space rocks come from.
On December 17, the Al Sadeem Observatory captured Comet Leonard sweeping past Venus in the early evening sky.
C/2021 A1 (Leonard) spotted yesterday, December 17, 2021 right after sunset in Al Wathba, Abu Dhabi.
— Al Sadeem Observatory (@AlSadeemObs) December 18, 2021
In the days leading to the comet’s perihelion, Comet Leonard will become tricky to observe because it will be very low on the south-western horizon and could dim further. Its brightness may also vary depending on the circumstances, a usual thing to happen for the unpredictable space rocks.
An astronomer with the University of Arizona’s Catalina Sky Survey, Greg Leonard, spotted C/2021 A1 in January 2021, making it his 13th comet discovery.
January 4 – Quadrantid Meteor Shower
With the beginning of the New Year blessing us with dark night skies, watching 2021’s first meteor shower may be worth your while.
On January 4, the Quadrantid meteor shower peaks at a nominal rate of around 40-120 meteors per hour. These numbers may vary, though, depending on where you are watching the meteor shower, and whether you have a perfectly dark sky and that the radiant of the shower is situated directly overhead.
The Moon is still young by then, so the skies will be darker than usual. Expect the shower to reach peak activity at around 02:00 A.M. on January 4.
As a rule, we usually look for the radiant, or the area in the sky where the meteors appear to originate—which by the way is also how the meteors showers get their names.
The radiant of Quadrantids is in the constellation Bootes, which is uncanny because meteor showers are supposed to be named after their radiant constellation, right?
Well, according to NASA, the Quadrantids got their name from an obsolete constellation called “QuadransMuralis,” which was identified by French astronomer Jerome Lalande in 1795. But the “when the International Astronomical Union (IAU) created a list of recognized modern constellations in 1922, QuadransMuralis was left off the list.” QuadransMuralis is found between Bootes and Draco.
The best place to look is not directly at the radiant itself, but at any dark patch of sky near it. Ergo, don’t limit yourself to one area of the sky, but scan the whole northern half of the sky to catch these Quadrantids.
Experts say that the Quadrantid meteor shower comes from the debris of a space rock identified as asteroid 2003 EH1. When this debris hits our atmosphere, they cause friction that appears to be bright streaks in the night sky.
January 4 – Moon-Mercury-Saturn Appulse
It’s not every day that an inner planet joins the Moon and a gaseous planet in the night sky.
On January 4, the Moon that is only 3.5 percent illuminated will skirt between planets Mercury and Saturn, becoming visible at 06:15 P.M. above the south-western horizon. The trio will then set less than an hour later at 07:00 P.M.
January 6 – Moon-Jupiter Conjunction
Two conjunctions are happening this month, and the first one is courtesy of our Moon and planet Jupiter. The crescent Moon and our Solar System’s colossal planet will roughly share the same right ascension. Catch them beginning 06:05 P.M. above your south-western horizon until 09:14 P.M.
January 7 – Mercury at Greatest Eastern Elongation
We get to have another chance at observing Mercury on January 7 because the planet will be at its greatest eastern elongation. When a planet is at its greatest eastern elongation, it will be visible as evening objects in the sky, just right after sunset.
Available data about Mercury’s elongation says that the planet will be shining brightly at mag -0.6 and will reach a peak altitude of 16° above the horizon at sunset, which will be at 05:49 P.M. Look at the south-west direction at sunset, and you will find the smallest planet of our Solar System.
It will be best to observe Mercury with your telescopes in a highly-elevated area, where the horizon can be seen and is not obstructed.
January 29 – Moon-Mars Appulse
Aside from the Quadrantids this month, there’s another sky event that may require you to wake up really early or stay up all night just for you to see.
On January 29, the red planet Mars will share roughly the same right ascension with a bright Waning Crescent Moon just before sunrise.
The pair will rise at 04:50 at an altitude of 22° above the south-eastern horizon, and fades from view as the dawn breaks.
The following day, the Moon-Mars tandem will drift southward and rendezvous with Venus.
SUNRISE AND SUNSET TIMES
|Jan 1||07:06 A.M.||05:45 P.M.|
|Jan 31||07:04 A.M.||06:07 P.M.|
|Jan 2||New Moon|
|Jan 18||Full Moon|
|Jan 25||3rd quarter|
- Astronomy Calendar of Celestial Events 2022. (n.d.). Retrieved from Sea and Sky: www.seasky.org/astronomy/astronomy-calendar-2022.html
- Calendar of Astronomical Events. (n.d.). Retrieved from In-The-Sky.org: https://in-the-sky.org/newscal.php?month=1&year=2022&maxdiff=4#datesel
- Sunrise and sunset times in Abu Dhabi, December 2022. (n.d.). Retrieved from timeanddate.com: https://www.timeanddate.com/sun/united-arab-emirates/abu-dhabi?month=1&year=2022