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.

Trending - Most Read Stories

WPAFB Friday Weather: Strong storms possible for afternoon, early evening 

Published: Friday, June 22, 2018 @ 12:19 AM

WRIGHT PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE—It will be a day to keep a close eye on the weather, said Storm Center 7 Chief Meteorologist Eric Elwell.

RELATED: 5-Day Forecast

While the overall severe weather threat is low, there will be the chance for a few strong storms in the afternoon and early evening. Gusty winds, lightning and locally heavy rainfall will again be possible. Storms should taper off during the night.

RELATED: County-by-County Weather 

Temperatures will reach up to near 80 degrees Friday and cool into the upper 70s on Saturday. There is still a chance for some passing showers on Saturday but rain chances are expected to decrease for the second half of the weekend.


Trending - Most Read Stories

Dayton Air Show forecast: Warm with chance for showers, storms

Published: Thursday, June 21, 2018 @ 5:47 AM

Forecast for the Vectren Dayton Air Show

The chance for rain will be around for the start of the weekend. That means those heading to the Vectren Dayton Air Show will need to be prepared, said Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Brett Collar.

We're also keeping an eye on the heat at times this weekend.

>> Storm Center 7’s Kirstie Zontini flies with U.S. Navy Blue Angels

Saturday: The chance for a few storms will be in the forecast, especially for the first part of the day. Conditions are expected to improve through the day. Highs will be in the upper 70s.

>> WHIO Doppler 7 Interactive Radar

Sunday: It will be a mainly dry day, but a stray shower or storm can’t be completely ruled out. Sunday will be a touch warmer as we see highs in the lower 80s. However, with a lot of concrete at the Dayton International Airport, surface temperatures will be closer to the mid to upper-80s.

>> Download our FREE weather app

Air show leaders said those coming to the air show this weekend they’ll need to stay hydrated, adding there’s little shade at the airport to protect you from the sun. 

There will be fountains for free water. If anyone does start to feel ill, they should go to one of the EMS tents or to one of the paramedics that will on bicycles.

Full coverage of the Dayton Air Show

>> How to avoid traffic and parking headaches at this weekend’s Dayton Air Show

>> Insider’s guide to the 2018 Dayton Air Show

>> Here’s how Dayton Air Show officials prepare for worst case scenarios

>> F-22 Raptor, Golden Knights to perform at 2018 Vectren Dayton Air Show

>> Blue Angels set to perform in Dayton: Five things to know

>> 13 things you don’t want to miss at the Dayton Air Show this weekend

Trending - Most Read Stories

WPAFB Thursday Weather: Summer showers, storms expected for afternoon 

Published: Thursday, June 21, 2018 @ 12:01 AM

WRIGHT PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE—With summer officially arriving this morning, some summer storms are expected as we head into the afternoon, according to Storm Center 7 Chief Meteorologist Eric Elwell.

RELATED: County-by-County Weather 

Showers and storms will become more numerous toward evening with some locally heavy rain possible.

On and off showers and storms will stick around Friday with a few strong storms possible. Highs will stay near 80 degrees the rest of the week. Scattered storms may threaten the start of the air show this weekend but the rain chances should drop by Sunday.

Trending - Most Read Stories

Threat for flash flooding through Wednesday

Published: Tuesday, June 19, 2018 @ 4:24 AM
Updated: Tuesday, June 19, 2018 @ 11:30 PM

Flooding on Third Street

Clouds will linger with still a chance for a passing shower or storm overnight. Patchy fog will be possible late in areas that have heavy rain. Temperatures will drop into the lower 70s by morning, Storm Center 7 Chief Meteorologist Eric Elwell said.

>> Man hears ‘boom boom clack’ before tree falls on vehicle


  • On-and-off storms through midweek
  • Locally heavy rain possible
  • Heat to ease into the weekend

>> FLOODING: Know your risks


Wednesday: Scattered showers and storms return, but will be more widespread across the southern counties. Outside of the storms, skies will be partly sunny with highs in the lower 80s.

>> LIVE Doppler 7 Interactive HD Radar

>> How to prevent heat-related and life-threatening illnesses during extreme heat

Thursday: Partly sunny skies with a bit less humidity. A passing shower or storm is possible again in southern counties. Temperatures will climb into the lower 80s.

>> Cloudy with a chance of podcast

Friday: Scattered showers and storms spread back across the area with locally heavy rain possible. A few stronger storms are possible as well with highs again in the lower 80s.

Saturday: A chance for showers and storms are expected again. Otherwise, skies will be partly sunny with highs in the upper 70s.

>> The UV index explained

Sunday: Skies will be partly cloudy There is a slight chance for a passing shower or storm, mainly in the southern counties. Highs will be in the lower 80s. 

Trending - Most Read Stories