January 2023 Night Sky


Happy New Year!

January promises more early sunsets and long, dark nights and with the holidays being over, perhaps slightly less light pollution (not something Scrooge was concerned about, except perhaps the cost of candles)! Being the coldest month of the year, we can also perhaps look forward to great viewing conditions with low moisture and still air. Likely only astronomers have a reason to look forward to cold and dark winter nights!

We have a chance at seeing a comet, possibly with the naked eye and more clearly with binoculars this month as the newly discovered  Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) arrives in our sky.

The Quadrantids meteor shower in Boötes spans Dec. 28 to Jan. 12 with the peak being on on Jan. 3. Unfortunately as with several previous meteor showers, the Moon will somewhat spoil the show as it approaches full on the 6th.

Venus will be visible in the southwest sky before sunset early in the month. Look for Venus to be very close to Saturn near sunset on the 22nd.
Mars is still visible after dark and throughout most of the night in early January, setting around 3:30 am at the end of the month. Look up at the Moon around 10:30 pm and watch Mars get ever closer as midnight approaches through to 1 am the next day.
Jupiter is bright in the sky in the early evening, though setting earlier and earlier now around 11:20 pm at at start of January and around 10 pm on the 31st.
Saturn is still visible in our region though getting lower and lower in the sky by sunset with it now setting around 8:15 pm in the evening and by 6:30 pm by February.

Another interesting event is that on January 4th the Earth will be closest point to the sun of its elliptical orbit (perihelion), not that we’ll really notice:

Below we have some wonderful materials courtesy of the Astronomical League

Astronomical League Observing Notes:

And here is a binocular challenge from the Astronomical League:

Jeff's NOVAC Observing Report

The Sun
  Jan  8  will rise at 7:27 AM, will set at 5:03 PM

The Moon
  Jan  6  Full Moon
  Jan 14 Last Quarter 
  Jan 21 New Moon 
  Jan 28 First Quarter
  Jan  3  The Quadrantid meteor shower peaks (active Dec 28 to Jan 12)
  Jan  7  Mercury is in inferior conjunction (Mercury between the Sun and Earth)
  Jan 30 Mercury is at greatest western elongation (from Espenak)

The Planets
                  Jan  8
                 rises    transits   sets
  Mercury       7:07 AM  12:02 PM   4:56 PM
  Venus         8:41 AM   1:36 PM   6:31 PM
  Mars          1:50 PM   9:19 PM   4:51 AM
  Jupiter      11:05 AM   5:06 PM  11:07 PM
  Saturn        9:27 AM   2:40 PM   7:52 PM
            mag   diam  notes for Jan  8              
           ----  -----  ----------------              
  Mercury   4.2  10.0"                                
  Venus    -3.9  10.5"  SW, 14*                       
  Mars     -1.0  13.6"  E, 35*                        
  Jupiter  -2.4  38.4"  S, 51*                        
  Saturn    0.8  15.6"  SW, 27*                       
  (* degrees elevation at sunset taking into account atmospheric refraction)
  (mag = apparent magnitude, diam = apparent equatorial angular diameter)
Jupiter Eclipse Events on Friday and Saturday Nights
 Jan 14 5:07 PM Europa Eclipse End (S 0 J 199 51)
 Jan 21 7:44 PM Europa Eclipse End (S -28 J 253 30)
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