Our New Year of Sky-Watching begins with Jupiter and Saturn visible most of the evening, while Mercury, Venus, and Mars show up in the morning sky before sunrise. Looking back to December we enjoyed presenting our annual planetarium Xmas program to record crowds; averaging 67 for 6 showings —- 381 total. Thank you all!
Saturn will be seen in January in the southwestern sky , fairly low, but not setting until 9 pm local time. A neat, crescent Moon will be seen west(right) of Saturn on the night of the 13th, and east (left) of the ringed planet on the 14th. Jupiter, brighter than Saturn, shines high in the southern sky and won’t set until after midnight. Its position is good for telescopic viewing which will reveal plenty of surface features in the cold clear air of winter; along with its 4 large Moons, looking like jewels surrounding it.
In the eastern morning sky Venus will appear first and be visible for about 3 hours before sunrise. Antares, the brightest star in Scorpius appears below Venus on the 1st of January, and then as Venus moves in its orbit, it will be seen above Antares by the 6th.
Mercury will be low to the eastern horizon before dawn and below and left of Venus on January 5th, with the waning crescent moon below Mercury of the 9th. In late January Mars will appear to rise out of the eastern horizon around January 20th; left of Mercury. Then the orbits of each planet will bring the two closer to each other until January 27th, when they will be almost touching. In fact, through a telescope or binoculars, both planets may be seen within the same field of view! Binoculars will help us find both as they will be low to the eastern horizon; left of bright Venus.
The Quatrantids Meteor Shower peaks January 4th. Look northeast between 4 and 6 am; about halfway up from the horizon. Twenty to thirty meteors per hour are typical. This shower is named after a now defunct constellation that lay in the area of the upper part of the constellation Bootes.
Across the south take in the beautiful big and bright winter constellations starting with mighty Orion, halfway up from the horizon, with Taurus above and right; Canis Major below and left of Orion; Auriga up near the zenith; and Gemini below and left of Auriga.
January Full Moon is on the 25th.