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David Mayeux
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Current Astronomy "Headlines"

Full Moon
January 4

Last Quarter January 13

New Moon January 20

First Quarter
January 26

Listed below are notable astronomical events coming up for the month of
January 2015:

Naked-Eye Planets

In January, Mercury is setting slightly later nightly and begins the month very close to Venus’ position in the sky in the far eastern part of the constellation
Sagittarius. Only 3 days thereafter, Mercury moves into Capricornus and on the 10th and 11th of the month Venus and Mercury are around 1 degree apart close to the horizon in the west setting after the Sun. On the 14th Mercury comes to greatest eastern elongation, but is so swift that by the 30th of the month comes back into inferior conjunction with the Sun! Translation: Mercury is in good position for viewing at the beginning and middle of the month, but not at all by month’s end.

In January, Venus pretty much follows the same path as Mercury for the first half of the month, but then as Mercury bends back toward the Sun, Venus continues on through the constellation Capricornus. On the 21st of the month, Venus, Mercury, and the young crescent Moon make a beautiful triangle above the WSW horizon that evening. By the end of the month, Venus has moved into Aquarius and is rapidly approaching Mars, only about 10 degrees away at that time!

In January, Mars is in far eastern Capricornus early in the month, starting at only about 2-3 degrees west of the star Deneb Algedi (Delta Capricorni). On the 8th of the month, Mars crosses over into Aquarius, and the young crescent Moon bypasses on the 22nd of the month. By month’s end, Mars is in eastern Aquarius, setting at about 8:15 p.m.

Jupiter starts January rising at about 8:20 p.m. in Leo, about 8-9 degrees NW of Regulus. The waning gibbous Moon bypasses on the 7th, and Jupiter finishes the month just inside the border of the constellation Leo (border with Cancer). Early next month, Jupiter comes to solar opposition!

In January, Saturn begins the month at the extreme eastern border of the constellation Libra, rising a little before 4:30 a.m. The waning crescent Moon bypasses by only 1-2 degrees on the morning of the 16th, at about which time Saturn also crosses over into the constellation Scorpius. By the end of the month, Saturn rises at about 2:40 a.m. only about a degree away from the star Acrab (Beta1 Scorpii) in the head of the Scorpion.

Telescopic Planets

In early January, Uranus is approaching meridian in the early evening, high in the south after sunset Pisces. The waxing crescent Moon bypasses again on the evenings of the 24th and 25th. Uranus finishes the month setting at about 10:30 p.m.

Neptune is high in the southwest in the early evening in the constellation Aquarius in early January, setting in the evening at about 9:30 p.m. The planet Mars comes into a close conjunction (within about a degree or less) on the evening of the 19th, and the waxing crescent Moon comes closest on the 22nd. Neptune ends the month in a decently close conjunction with Venus (about 2-3 degrees) and sets at about 7:30 p.m. at month’s end.

Dwarf Planets

Ceres rises before the Sun at the start of January at a little after 3:30 a.m.in Sagittarius. The waning crescent Moon bypasses closest on the morning of the 18th. At month’s end, Ceres rises just a tad after 5:30 a.m., and is pretty close to Pluto’s position in the sky (about 5 degrees away from each other)!

At the beginning of January, Pluto is just barely in the evening sky, but comes to solar conjunction on the 3rd of the month. The dwarf planet remains in the glare of the Sun for most of the rest of the month, but rises high enough out of the solar glare for about the last week of the month to see with VERY good equipment! At month’s end Pluto rises at a little before 5:45 a.m. in Sagittarius.






Meteor Showers - http://amsmeteors.org/showers.html

Viewable Comets - http://cometography.com/current_comets.html

Special events - http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/highlights



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