Adrian Dening's Stars Over Somerset

    Monday 10th to Sunday 16th January 2022

    We'll start next week with an opportunity to observe another of the lunar "clair-obscur" visual effects. This time it's the turn of the "Jewelled Handle" which is caused by the lunar dawn illuminating the peaks of the Jura Mountains. It occurs during the evening of Wednesday 12th and is best viewed with binoculars or a small telescope.

    Not to be confused with the Jura Mountains in the French Alps, the lunar Montes Jura (to give them their correct name) are located towards the north west nearside face of the Moon. To make it easier to locate them, I have included a diagram of the different "clair-obscur" effects, courtesy of Sky at Night Magazine.

    If you fancy a bit of a challenge, on Thursday 13th you could have a go a spotting the minor planet 7 Iris which will be at magnitude +7.7. You will need those binoculars or a telescope again because it is a bit too faint to be seen with the naked eye.

    7 Iris will be located roughly halfway between the stars Pollux in the constellation of Gemini and Procyon in Canis Minor. Around 7pm on 13th, these constellations will be towards the east, to the left of Orion.

    7 Iris is one of the larger objects in the main asteroid belt located between Mars and Jupiter. It is the 4th brightest object in the asteroid belt due to its shiny surface and was first discovered by astronomer J R Hind in 1847. Hind discovered and named several asteroids, including one called 12 Victoria which caused quite a controversy as at the time, asteroids were not supposed to be named after living persons, but Queen Victoria was still on the throne!

    Screenshot courtesy of Stellarium
    Copyright Adrian Dening and Radio Ninesprings 2022

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