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Orion has made the difficult decision to close our warehouse facility in the Netherlands. With the continuing supply chain/logistics challenges and slowness in the economy we have found that it is not economically feasible to maintain operations in the UK and Europe.

We have therefore stopped taking orders on this website. We apologize for any inconvenience.

We will continue to have Orion dealers in Europe to meet the needs of Orion consumers. We will also continue to honor the 30-Day product return period as well as honoring the Orion warranty for purchases made in the UK and Europe.

Our US-based Customer Service Representatives are here to help. Contact them via email at support@telescope.com or in the United Kingdom, via phone at 0-800-041-8146 (Monday-Friday between the hours of 1300 and 2400 GMT).

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What's In the Sky - January 2016
What's In the Sky - January 2016

Make a New Year's resolution to stargaze in 2016! January kicks off the New Year with wonderful sights for backyard astronomers to enjoy with friends and family. Don't forget to bundle up and stay warm on clear evenings as you explore the sparkling night sky. Here are a few of our top picks for January stargazers:

  • Catch a Faint Comet - On January 1st, Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10) will pass half a degree from the bright beacon star Arcturus. Just out of naked-eye visibility, it appears as a small, fuzzy streak in binoculars, and may reveal more detail in a telescope. In photographs Catalina displays a beautiful twin tail (dust and ion) splayed wide apart. The comet has already rounded the Sun, so it likely won't be getting any brighter, but over the next couple weeks look for this faint interloper high in the sky in early morning hours between Arcturus and Alkaid, the star at the end of the Big Dipper's "handle".
  • Meteor Madness - Bundle up and get outside on the night of January 3rd and the morning of the 4th to see the Quadrantids meteor shower peak. Some meteors associated with the Quadrantids are expected to be visible from January 1st until the 6th, but the peak of activity will occur during the night and early morning hours of 3-4 January, with up to 40 meteors expected per hour. Look for "shooting stars" radiating from the constellation Bo÷tes. This year, the Moon will be a relatively dark waning crescent during the shower, so there will be plenty of great opportunities to see meteors as they streak across the night sky. You don't need a telescope to enjoy this show, just a clear, dark sky and warm clothing.
  • Pre-Dawn Pairing - It's worth rising before the Sun on January 8th, as bright Venus and ringed planet Saturn will appear to pass within just 5 arcminutes (0░05') of each other in the very early morning sky. The pair of planets will rise at approximately 4:40AM PT (12:40PM UTC Jan 9th) for early risers to enjoy before they fade into the dawn sunlight a couple hours later. At their closest approach to one another, both planets will fit nicely in the field of view of a binocular or telescope at low-power, or you can enjoy this pretty pairing with unaided eyes.
  • New Moon - Take advantage of the dark New Moon phase on January 10th and break out your deep space gear to get great views of some deep sky objects. Since you don't have to worry about glaring moonlight during the New Moon phase, it's a great opportunity to obtain good views of fainter celestial objects from any location. For exceptional views, take your astronomy gear out to a location away from city lights with nice dark skies to really take advantage of the New Moon!
  • Orion High in the Sky - Our namesake constellation will be well-placed for backyard astronomers throughout January. Some of our favorite targets in or near Orion are:
  • M42, The Great Nebula in Orion - Visible as the middle star of Orion's sword, this emission nebula looks amazing in everything from binoculars to the XX16g! Can you see the trapezium, the 4-star system at the center? Even viewers from moderately light-polluted areas can get a good sense of the glory of this object if you use an Orion UltraBlock or Oxygen-III filter.
  • M78 - Another, much fainter, emission nebula, M78, is located just left and above the left- most star in Orion's belt. Again, an Oxygen-III filter can help.
  • NGC 2174/2175 - A large emission patch and star cluster, this complex is located near the top of Orion's raised "hand". Under dark and clear skies this can be seen in larger binoculars such as Orion Astronomy Binoculars.
  • Hind's Crimson Star - Just South of Orion is the constellation Lepus, the Hare. In Lepus you can catch a glimpse of the rare winter globular cluster M79, as well as R Lepori - a well known variable star that varies between magnitude +5.5 (just visible to the naked eye) to +11.7 with a period of about 427 days. What's interesting about this star is that because it is a "carbon star" it is very red; when at its brightest, the red color is unmistakable.
  • January Challenge Object - Just west of Rigel, the bright blue/white star that marks the western "knee" of Orion, lies the Witch Head Nebula (IC 2118), in the neighboring constellation Eridanus. The Witch-Head is a reflection nebula that shines from reflected light off of Rigel, like the reflection nebula in the Pleiades, M45. You don't need a big telescope; a wide field of view, low power and a dark sky are needed to see this challenging nebula. (Hint: Don't use filters). Can you see it? Let us know on Facebook!


Rigel and the Witch Head Nebula

Rigel and the Witch Head Nebula - Photo Credit: NASA/STScI Digitized Sky Survey/Noel Carboni

All objects described above can easily be seen with the suggested equipment from a dark sky site, a viewing location some distance away from city lights where light pollution and when bright moonlight does not overpower the stars.

Date Taken: 12/01/2015
Author: Orion Staff
Category: Observing Guides

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