I assume we all know what the Aurora Borealis is? Simply put; it is a natural light display (usually only seen in the high latitude regions – Arctic & Antartic) that is produced when the magnetosphere plasma has been significantly disturbed by the solar winds. Electrons & Protons have made their way into the upper atmosphere in large numbers and the resulting ionization and excitation of the atmosphere emits lights of varying colors dependent on the amount of excitation. There is more, but the important thing is when the Sun is particularly active and we have lots of magnetic active going on, these aurora’s travel a wider latitude. Tonight, New Year’s Eve 2015, is one such night and we could register a massive register a massive solar storm resulting in a gorgeous light show.
Lots of other goings on! I’m sure you know of the Comet Catalina. Originating most likely from the Oort cloud it seems it has been bumped out of a solar orbit and is on its way out of the solar system altogether.(this is called a hyperbolic orbit). While it will make appearance all through January 17th and then be gone forever, tonight is your best chance as though it will be closer later in January, tonight it will be about .4 degrees of Arcturus (one of the brightest star in the sky) so grab some binoculars to bring to the party! You should be able to see it in the night sky with the naked eye but why risk it? After all – last time EVER unless of course you travel to another system/galaxy far-far away!
The New Year brings all sorts of things to see - Weather permitting, the planets Jupiter, Mars, Venus and Saturn will be visible stretching across the dawn sky right along the ecliptic (the invisible line that the sun follows across the sky).
Because the solstice happened so recently – just passed actually, in the Northern Hemisphere dawn still comes a bit later in the morning then many people would prefer, so people are up and about while the sky is still dark enough to observe these interesting conjunctions between the moon and these four planets. (I get up at 4am each day and while the night sky often has clouds, I get a good hour to catch things in the morning sky that are quite clear!) Might I suggest making the effort to catch the morning sky with all it has to offer? Especially on the New Year’s as you can go back to bed anyway!
Anyway – a happy, prosperous, wonder-filled New Year to all!
Desejo a todos um feliz e prospero Ano Novo