Jan 23

Sky Report: January 24 – January 30

The planets 50 minutes before sunrise on Saturday morning the 29th.
The horizon is translucent so you can see where the sun is (and Saturn, which is beyond it).
Graphic created with SkySafariAstronomy.com.

Jupiter is the sole planet in the evening sky (not counting Uranus and Neptune, both visible in a small telescope in Aries and Aquarius respectively), and you’ll see Jupiter low in the west-southwest as the sky is growing dark. Jupiter far outshines even the brightest stars and its great brilliance lets you see it down to the horizon. Jupiter sets a little more than 2 hours after the sun. In a week it will set 1-1/2 hours after the sun, in another week it will set 1 hour after the sun, and the week after we’ll lose it. Jupiter isn’t doing anything; we’re moving on ahead faster on our circular orbit so as to put the sun between us and Jupiter.

On the other side of the sky Venus and Mars are returning to view during morning twilight. Mars rises a little earlier than Venus, but Venus is a full 100 times brighter, so you’ll use Venus to find Mars – which is 11° to the right of Venus, or about the width of your fist held at arm’s length.

Venus has just moved between the earth and sun (it was most nearly in line with the sun on the 8th) and is very quickly gaining altitude. Watch it climb higher at the same time each morning. It’s low in morning twilight now, but compare its position in a month.

The best morning to look for Venus and Mars is the 29th when the moon joins them. The moon is a very thin crescent, but it’s twice as bright as Venus. The moon is well to the right of Venus, and on that morning Mars is 3° to the upper left of the moon; both will fit in the view of binoculars and all are in Sagittarius. The bright orange star to the upper right of Mars is Antares, which means “rival of Mars”, in Scorpius.

The same four relatively bright comets that were visible in the evening sky last week are still visible, so if you have a telescope you still have a chance to track them down. They were mentioned last week, and previous Sky Reports are archived at the Stellar Vista Observatory web site.

All the major winter constellations are up in the east as soon as the sky is dark, and that tells us that winter is truly upon us.

Thanks to a 2021 grant from the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development and the Kane County Office of Tourism, Stellar Vista Observatory offers portable telescopes and tripod mounted binocular kits on loan for free to all residents of Kane County. Nothing beats a quality binocular or astronomical telescope to enhance enjoyment of the night sky! Visit https://stellarvistaobservatory.org/discover-the-night-sky/ or Kanab City Library for full details.

The Sky Report is presented as a public service by the Stellar Vista Observatory, a nonprofit organization based in Kanab, Utah, which provides opportunities for people to observe, appreciate, and comprehend our starry night sky. Additional information is at www.stellarvistaobservatory.org. Send questions and comments to John@StargazingAdventures.org.

About the Author:

John Mosley was Program Supervisor of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles for 27 years and is the author of “Stargazing for Beginners” and “Stargazing with Binoculars and Telescopes”. He and his wife live in St. George where he continues to stargaze from his retirement home while serving on the advisory committee for Stellar Vista Observatory.

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