Skywatch: new year planets and stars

Looking back on December, we enjoyed presenting our annual planetarium Christmas program to record crowds — totaling 381 for six showings.

Thank you all!

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.

Saturn will be seen in January in the southwestern sky, fairly low, but not setting until 9 p.m. local time.

A neat, crescent moon will be seen west (right) of Saturn on the night of Jan. 13, and east (left) of the ringed planet on Jan. 14.

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 four large moons looking like jewels surrounding it.

In the eastern morning sky Venus will appear first and be visible for about three hours before sunrise.

Antares, the brightest star in Scorpius, appears below Venus on Jan. 1, and then as Venus moves in its orbit, it will be seen above Antares by Jan. 6.

Mercury will be low to the eastern horizon before dawn and below and left of Venus on Jan. 5, with the waning crescent moon below Mercury on Jan. 9.

Mars will appear to rise out of the eastern horizon around Jan. 20, left of Mercury.

Then the orbits of each planet will bring the two closer to each other until Jan. 27, 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 Quatrantid meteor shower peaks on Jan. 4. Look northeast between 4 and 6 a.m., about halfway up from the horizon. Twenty to 30 meteors per hour are typical. This shower is named after a now-defunct constellation that is 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’s full moon is on the 25th.

Any related posts will be listed here:

Skip to content