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January’s spectacular sky: Mercury, meteors and 2 Supermoons 

Published: Tuesday, December 26, 2017 @ 8:08 AM

There is a lot happening in the cold January sky!

It is hard to believe 2017 is coming to a close in just a matter of days. You must admit, it has been an interesting year for weather.

From a record hurricane season to a spike in severe storms this year, it has been very busy. Ohio typically averages around 18 tornadoes per year, but 2017 saw more than 40.

One of the most talked-about events of the year was an event that took place high above the clouds. Who can forget the Great American Solar Eclipse back in August, which spanned from the west coast to the east coast?

» LATEST ON SKY EVENTS: #SkyWitness7 shows you when to see stars, meteors and other events

While the weather may have turned cold, the coming month of January will be quite busy in the night sky. There are several events to be on the lookout for during the first week of the new year.

On the morning of New Year’s Day, the planet Mercury reaches greatest western elongation of 22.7 degrees from the sun. This is the best time to view Mercury since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the morning sky. Look for the planet low in the eastern sky just before sunrise.

The very next day, the first of two Supermoons for the year will occur. The moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the sun and its face will be will be fully illuminated. This phase occurs at around 9:24 p.m. local time.

» AMAZING PHOTOS: The December Supermoon, seen on social media

This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Wolf Moon because this was the time of year when hungry wolf packs howled outside their camps. If you live outside the cities, perhaps you have heard them yourself. The moon will be at its closest approach to the Earth and may look slightly larger and brighter than usual on this day.

On Jan. 3 and 4, the Quadrantids meteor shower will be peaking with up to 40 meteors per hour. It is thought to be produced by dust grains left behind by an extinct comet known as 2003 EH1, which was discovered in 2003. The shower runs annually from Jan. 1-5. Unfortunately, the nearly full moon will block out all but the brightest meteors this year. If you are patient, you should still be able to catch some of the brightest ones. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors can appear anywhere in the sky.

The month will end with a pretty spectacular show. On Jan. 31, the moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the sun, and its face will be will be fully illuminated. Since this is the second full moon in the same month, it is sometimes referred to as a blue moon. This is also the last of two Supermoons for 2018.

» WHAT ABOUT THIS WEEK? Frigid morning start all week, snow showers to arrive at week’s end

Again, the moon will be at its closest approach to the Earth and may look slightly larger and brighter than usual. What will make this event even more spectacular is the fact that, if the weather cooperates, we’ll also get to see a total lunar eclipse right before the moon sets. A total lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes completely through the Earth’s dark shadow, or umbra. During this type of eclipse, the Moon will gradually get darker and then take on a rusty or blood red color. The best time to see this “blood moon” will be just before sunrise on that Wednesday morning.

While January likely may be too cold for many casual stargazers, any snow on the ground will make viewing of the stars and the moon on a clear night even more vivid. So let’s hope for some good weather to see a great show in the sky next month.

Eric Elwell is WHIO StormCenter 7 Chief Meteorologist. Contact him at eric.elwell@coxinc.com or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Temps to fall quickly after sunset, but warm-up on the way

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 3:51 AM
Updated: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 1:10 PM

Temperatures slowly climb towards the weekend.

QUICK-LOOK FORECAST

  • Sunshine returns but cold
  • Gradual warm-up ahead
  • Rain later weekend

>> WHIO Doppler 7 Interactive Radar

DETAILED FORECAST

Today: Plenty of sunshine for the afternoon, but cold with highs in the lower 20s, said Storm Center 7 Meteorologist McCall Vrydaghs. With a light breeze, wind chills will range in the single digits to lower teens. Skies remain clear into the night. After sunset, temperatures will fall quickly. Overnight lows expected in the upper single digits with sub-zero wind chills.

5 Day Forecast with Meteorologist McCall Vrydaghs
Cold walk Wednesday morning, Jan. 17 along St. Clair Street in Dayton. MARSHALL GORBY/STAFF

Thursday: It will be a quiet, but cold morning. There will be sunshine at times throughout the day as highs climb to the low 30s.

>> VIDEO: Mountains of thick ice pile along shores of Lake Erie 

Friday: Morning temperatures will be a little warmer, and we’ll start the day out of the single digits. Temperatures in the afternoon will climb to the upper 30s to around 40. It will be a pleasant end to the work week and day.

>> 4 tricks to help avoid illness during big temperature changes

Saturday: This will be the best day of the weekend as highs reach the mid-40s. The day looks to be dry with clouds increasing. It will feel nice in the afternoon.

>> WATCH: Meteor spotted in Ohio, Michigan, Canada

Sunday: Clouds will thicken up through the day. Moisture from the next system will bring breezy conditions and the chance for rain or drizzle later into the night.

This is why you should seriously never eat snow

Published: Friday, January 22, 2016 @ 3:06 PM
Updated: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 9:27 AM

Never Eat Snow - Here's Why

 

Don’t eat the snow! A study, published in 2016, claimed that eating snow is potentially dangerous, particularly in urban areas.

Dr. Parisa Ariya, a professor at McGill University in Canada, told The Huffington Post that snow in cities can absorb toxic and carcinogenic pollutants and that the snow itself combining with those pollutants can lead to even more dangerous compounds being released.

>> Read more trending stories

"Snowflakes are ice particles with various types of surfaces, including several active sites, that can absorb various gaseous or particulate pollutants," she said.

Ariya, who led the study, said she did not "wish to be alarmist," but "as a mother who is an atmospheric physical chemist, I definitely do not suggest my young kids eat snow in urban areas in general."

The study examined how snow interacts with pollutants from car exhaust in the air. Findings showed that snow pulled pollutants like benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene and xylenes from the air. The amount of pollutants concentrated in the snow increased dramatically.

"Without considering snow and ice, one will not be able to properly evaluate the effect of exhaust emission, and subsequently health and climate impacts, for the cities which receive snow," Ariya said. "Further research is recommended to address various aspects of such experiments under various environmental conditions, for adequate implementation in future modeling."

WPAFB Wednesday Forecast: Cold today, warming trend underway

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 1:03 AM

A false alarm in a building led to a temporary gate closure Wednesday night in Area B, a base spokeswoman said.
Staff Writer
A false alarm in a building led to a temporary gate closure Wednesday night in Area B, a base spokeswoman said.(Staff Writer)

While temperatures will still be quite cold, a slow warming trend will get underway today, said Storm Center 7 Chief Meteorologist Eric Elwell.

>> WHIO Doppler 7 Interactive Radar

Some sunshine will return to the area and after starting in the single digits, temperatures will rebound to near 20 degrees this afternoon.

>> WATCH: Meteor shower spotted in Ohio, Michigan, Canada

Skies will be mainly clear tonight through Thursday with temperatures climbing back into the upper 20s Thursday. The warming trend will continue into Friday and through the weekend with highs nearing 50 degrees by Sunday. There will be a slight chance for some patchy light rain or drizzle late Saturday into Sunday.

STAY INFORMED: School-Business Closings, Delays

Published: Thursday, December 08, 2016 @ 3:03 PM
Updated: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 @ 6:06 AM

Superintendents put a lot of focus on deciding to close school because of the weather.

Stay informed with the latest school delays and closings, business closings and snow emergencies.

You can access them 5 different ways: 

For information on how to enroll your school or business in the free School Watch Program, click here.