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The January Night Sky

The sky is not a painting, it's a movie. Stars pulse, flare, some explode as supernova, asteroids whiz by the earth, new comets appear in the sky, Aurora sets the northern skies ablaze and meteors streak through Earth's atmosphere.

 Astronomy Picture of the Day

See below Hubble site Tonight's Sky, highlights of this months night sky movie with narration below. Click on photo below.

Go To Comet Lovejoy SkyMaps

Asteroid 2004 BL86

Earth Closest to Sun

On January 4th the Earth was at its closest to the Sun for the year, about 1.5 million miles closer than average. This is called call perihelion.

The Full Moon for January

 The Full Wolf Moon amid the cold and deep snows of January the wolf packs howled hungrily outside Indian villages. Thus, the name for January’s full Moon. Sometimes it was also referred to as the Old Moon, or the Moon After Yule. Some called it the Full Snow Moon, but most tribes applied that name to the next Moon.

Lunar Phases

Full Moon January 4 11:53 pm EST
Last Quarter Moon January 13 4:46 am EST
New Moon January 20 8:14 am EST
First Quarter Moon January 26 11:48 pm EST

January  Lunar Highlights

January 7th the Moon rises in the east at 8:41 p.m. about 5° degrees to the right of Jupiter. January 8th the Moon passes 5° degrees below the Star Regulus of Leo the Lion. January 13th the Moon rises after midnight about 2° degrees above the bright star Spica in the constellation Virgo. The morning of January 16th in the east the Moon and Saturn are 1°16" degrees apart. January 21st in the west right after sunset look for a thin crescent new Moon, Venus and Mercury within 5° degrees of one another. On January 22nd Mars, Neptune and a thin crescent Moon appear close together with the Moon only 03°20'01" from Neptune and the Moon only 04°23'52" from Mars.

Evening Planets Visible

The image below for January 21st shows 5 planets visible. Not shown in map below is Uranus about 35 degrees above Mars. Jupiter will rise at 6:34 after Mercury and Venus have set. Best date to see all 5 planets is January 23.

The Planets Visibility for January

Mercury

Evening sky WSW

Mercury is just emerging from the Sun's glare first week of January. Venus and Mercury come close together in the evening sky on January 10th when the two planets are only an Angular separation of: 00°38'34". See image below. Mercury and Venus remain close till around January 20th when Mercury begins to drop into the Sun's glare. Mercury midmonth is at -0.5 magnitude and a diameter of 00°00'.07" located in the constellation Capricornus setting at 6:38 p.m..

Venus

Evening sky WSW

 Venus midmonth is at -3.9 magnitude and a diameter of 00°00'.11" located in the constellation Capricornus setting at 6:39 p.m.. Watch as Venus and Mercury grow closest together on January 10th. Venus continues to climb into the evening sky as the month progresses and on January 25th Venus moves into the Constellation Aquarius. Venus at months end is very close to Neptune and on February 1st is only an Angular separation: 00°49'08" from one another. Watch on February 21st when Mars and Venus appear close together at only an Angular separation: 00°26'08" apart.

Mars

Evening sky SW

Mars midmonth is at +1.1 magnitude and a diameter of 00°00'.05" located in the constellation Aquarius and sets at 8:11 p.m.. To find Mars look for a reddish object low in the southwest sky. 

To see which part of the surface is visible at any time, check out the Mars Profiler at Sky & Telescope Magazine's web page.

JUPITER

 Evening sky E

Jupiter January 1st is at -2.5 magnitude and a diameter of 00°00'.43" located in the constellation Leo the Lion. rising in the east around 8:00 p.m.. Midmonth Jupiter rises around 7:00 p.m. with a diameter of 00'.45". See photo below.

Animation of upcoming January 23/24 Transit of Jupiter's Moons

Animation provided by YCAS member Butch Kimmel using Starry Night planetarium program.

Look on January 23/24 for the shadows of three of Jupiter's Moons too transit across Jupiter.  Time to look is from 1:27 am EST and 1:52 am EST for the moons Europa, Callisto, and Io all casting their shadows on Jupiter. A small telescope will easily reveal four of Jupiter's largest and brightest moons. Check out Sky & Telescope's Jupiter Moons Utility for other configurations. Sky and Telescope Red Spot Calculator  

SATURN

  Morning sky SE

Saturn midmonth January is at +0.6 magnitude and diameter 00°00'.15" rising around 3:34 a.m. in the east southeast. Saturn is in the constellation Libra. The morning of January 16th the Moon and Saturn are 1°16" degrees apart. Midmonth Saturn rises at 3:34 a.m.. On January 18/19th Saturn moves into the constellation Scorpius.

 

Through a small telescope Saturn will reveal the famous rings of the planet. Rings currently are 22.7 tilt. See: Saturn's moons locations

URANUS

Evening Sky SW

 Uranus midmonth is at 5.8 magnitude and diameter 00°00'.03" and high in the southern sky after sunset setting at 11:30 p.m.. Uranus is located in the constellation Pisces. A moderate-sized telescope will show it as a green-gray disk. See: Sky and Telescope location PDF. Courtesy: Sky and Telescope

NEPTUNE 

Evening Sky WSW

Neptune midmonth is at 7.9 magnitude and diameter 00°00'.02" after sunset is visible in the southwest and sets around 8:26 p.m.. A moderate-sized telescope will show it as a blue green disk. Neptune is located in the constellation Aquarius. See: Sky and Telescope location PDF. Courtesy: Sky and Telescope

Bright Asteroids

Asteroid 2004 BL86

Asteroid 2004 BL86 will make a flyby January 26th that will be visible with small telescopes and possibly binoculars. See: SkyMaps and Ephemeris: 2004 BL86

6 Hebe

6 Hebe at magnitude 9.3 is in the constellation Taurus the Bull at midmonth.

Dwarf Planets

Pluto

 Pluto at midmonth is visible in the southwest right after sunset very low on the horizon and is amid the stars of the Milky Way in the constellation Sagittarius. Pluto is at magnitude +14.2 and diameter 00°00'.01"  A large telescope is needed to see this distant object.

COMETS

Comets Brighter than 8 Magnitude

Comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy

Comet Lovejoy is visible after sunset high in the south, and is reported at 4.2 magnitude as of January 22nd.The Comet is large and diffuse, fairly easy to find in binoculars as a faint fuzzy star from a dark sky away from light pollution. The comet appears with a blue-greenish color in the coma. Diameter is 25'. A very faint tail may be distinguished tail visible through binoculars under ideal conditions. For location and more see: Skymaps

Comet 15/P Finlay

Comet 15/P is becoming brighter and now at estimated 7.0 magnitude. This periodic comet may be in outburst. This comet is in the constellation Pisces on January 19th.

For more on current Comets and locations see: Seiichi Yoshida web site here.

METEOR SHOWERS

Currently No Major Meteor Shower

See: Listen to Meteors , American Meteor Society, Meteors Online also NASA All Sky Network

Some local links below to Heavens Above satellite information website.

Satellites Visible from York

Satellites visible from Hanover

Satellites visible from Gettysburg

Satellites visible from Lancaster

Satellites visible from Baltimore

Satellites visible from Harrisburg

Also see: Spaceflight NASA

 The Sun

Real time solar wind dials are linked live to the ACE Spacecraft.

 If the dial on the left (Magnetic Field) has dipped below zero, the speed is high and the dial dynamic pressure is in the yellow/red, be alert for Aurora. Anytime the gauges are in the Red and the dial on the left, the Magnetic Field BZ has dipped to the yellow-red... Aurora will be occurring in our area. See link to solar wind gauge here: REAL TIME SOLAR WIND

See explanation of  solar wind dials below by clicking on photo of dials

   

Use your hand to find degrees

NASA Night Sky Network Planner

Free download. AstroPlanner  

Download a free starmap at: Skymaps

Make your own starmap at: Star Finder

Download a free Planetarium for your computer at: Stellarium or Hallo Northern Sky Stellarium has many extra features.

Your Sky - Fourmilab

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