Observations

January 2009 night sky guide and podcast

To help you learn about the southern night sky, Sydney Observatory provides a star map or chart for each month of the year. We also provide an audio guide of the month’s night sky, presented this month by Dr Nick Lomb, Sydney Observatory’s Curator of Astronomy. You can listen online, or download the audio onto your ipod or mp3 player. Links to the audio and the star map are below.

For January 2009 – the first month of the International Year of Astronomy – Nick has a galaxy of fascinating information for all curious stargazers – including the little known fact that the name of the largest star in the constellation of Orion, Betelgeuse, means ‘armpit of the giant’ in Arabic. This and much more in the audio podcast – or you can read it in the transcript (links below).

For much more information and detail in star charts for months from December 2008 until December 2009 inclusive, plus information about the Sun and twilight and the Moon and tides, and a host of other fascinating astronomical information, you can purchase the 2009 Australian sky guide by Sydney Observatory’s Dr Nick Lomb. Available online and at Sydney Observatory and Powerhouse Museum shops.

The free monthly night sky map PDF (below) shows the stars, constellations and planets visible in the night sky from anywhere in Australia. To view PDF star charts you will need to download and install Adobe Acrobat Reader if it’s not on your computer already.

January 2009 night sky map

Read the transcript.

10 responses to “January 2009 night sky guide and podcast

  • Last night I was looking out the window towards the Rocky Mountains SW of High River, Alberta to see the most beautiful star – I have never really looked that closely before. It seemed to flicker red. blue and white. Was I imagining it ? It was about 12.15am on the night of the 16th Feb 2009 (Officially 17th Feb 09). The sky was so clear – it was amazing. I even woke up my daughter to show her.

    • Hello Rachel. You do not indicate in which direction you were looking. Bright stars often do appear to flicker and change colour when they are near the horizon and there were a number of bright stars either rising or setting at around that time: Spica in the south-east, Rigel in the west and Sirius in the south-west. Most likely you were looking at one of these.

  • Last night while driving home from Calgary AB I saw a very bright star low in the due western sky at about 9:00 PM. By 10:00 it was gone.
    This was in Central Alberta Canada on the evening of Feb 11/09

  • Hi there Peter, Andrew and Hannah
    Thanks for letting us know you find our monthly sky guides of value – heartening for us to hear.
    Happy stargazing
    Irma Havlicek
    (I produce the guides)

  • I’ve recently become interested in ‘informed stargazing’ and this chart is very helpful especially as I am a complete novice and have no telescope. It’s nice to know what can be seen with the naked eye, and the directions on the audio are very helpful. Thanx, i’ll be telling my uni friends all about it next time we go stargazing.

  • hi – many thanks for all this preparation and experience – i live in northern victoria in a national park and this is invaluable for my own interest and that of others when they visit – of course the skies up here at Hattah are amazing at night – so keep up the great monthly work and communication – much appreciated!!

  • Hi,
    In the north west sky about 45 degrees up, there appears to be a star out at 8pm- while still very bright. Is this venus?
    Thanks

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