January 2008

Lunar Events

The New moon in January occurs on Tuesday, January 8th, 2008.  This will make the weekend of January 5th-6th the best weekend to take you new Christmas telescope out for some dark sky viewing.

The Full Moon for January occurs on the 22nd and is know as the Full Snow Moon or Hunger Moon.

Celestial Events

Perihelion

On January 2nd, the Earth will be at its closest point to the Sun in its slightly elliptical orbit.  This event is known as the Perhelion.

Perihelion

The Perihelion is the point in Earth’s elliptical orbit that it is closest to the Sun.  This is the opposite point to the Aphelion when the Earth is at its furthest point to the Sun, which occurs in June.

Mercury

Mercury begins the new year by emerging into the evening sky before sunset.  Mercury is located in the constellation Sagittarius, The Archer, until January 7th when is crosses into the constellation Capricornus, the Sea Goat.

Greatest Eastern Elongation

Mercury at GEE

On January 21st, 2008, Mercury will reach its Greatest Eastern Elongation moving 18°39’ from the evening Sun.  This is the best day to observe Mercury in the evening.

MercuryElongation Elongations occur when the planet position in its orbital path is at tangent to the view from Earth. Because these inner planets are inside the Earth’s orbit, their positions as viewed from the Earth are never very far from the position of the Sun. When a planet is at Elongation is it furthest from the Sun as viewed from Earth, so it’s view is best at that point. There are two kinds of Elongations: The Eastern Elongation occurs when the planet is in the evening sky and the Western Elongation Occurs when a planet is in the morning sky.

At the end of the month on January 28th, Mercury begins its retrograde motion as is returns toward the glare of the evening sun.

Venus

Venus will dominate the morning sky all month as the Morning StarVenus begins the year  in the constellation Libra, the Balance, but on New Years Day, immediately crosses into the constellation Scorpius, the Scorpion.  On January 5th, Venus moves into the constellation Ophiuchus, the Serpent Bearer, where it will stay until January 21st, when it moves into the constellation Sagittarius, the Archer and approaches the planet Jupiter near the end of the month.

Jan 5 Venus, Jupiter

On January 4th & 5th  Venus is passed by a waning crescent moon.  By January 5th look for a triple conjunction of Venus, the Moon and the star Antares.

V2enus, Jupiter

On January 23rd Venus will pass within 5°15’ of the former planet Pluto.  Between January 23rd through the 31st, Venus, Pluto and Jupiter move closer together in triple conjunction. By the 31st Venus rises 0°35’ of Jupiter, within 2°15’ of M22, 4°15’ of M25.

Mars

Since Mars was at Opposition on Christmas Eve Mars will still be excellent viewing all night in January. Mars is located in the constellation Taurus, the Bull, all month and moving in retrograde motion until January 31st.

Mars & Moon

On January 19th, 2008 8:00pm - Mar and the Moon near the zenith.

On January 19th, 2008 2:30pm, will rise within  0°30n of the Waxing Gibbous Moon.

Jupiter

Jupiter found in the constellation Sagittarius, the Archer, all month.  New Years Day find Jupiter emerging from the glare of the morning sun.  Jupiter continues to improve its position from the sun, rising early each morning before sunrise.

Jupiter & Venus

By the end of the month Jupiter can be found in conjunction with the

Morning Star, Venus coming within 0°35’ by January 31st.

Saturn

Saturn is located in the constellation Leo, the Lion, until the year 2009. Saturn is moving in retrograde motion all month. Saturn rises about 9:30 at the beginning of the month , and by the end of the month it will rise around 7:15pm.

S2aturn & Moon

On January 24, 2008, Rises within 3° of the waning, gibbous moon.

Uranus

Uranus is located in the constellation Aqaurius, the Water Bearer, until the year 2009. Uranus is viewable in the evening and sets around 10:00pm at the beginning of the month.  By the end of January, Uranus sets around 8:00pm.

Neptune

Neptune is located in the constellation Capricornus, the Sea Goat, until the year 2010. Neptune is viewable in the evening and sets around 7:45pm at the beginning of the month.  By the end of January, Neptune sets around 6:00pm and will be lost in the glare of the sunset.

 

Uranus & Neptune

January 15th, 2008 - Here are the positions of Neptune and Uranus

at Sunset.

Pluto

The former planet Pluto (Yes, I’m bitter) is located in the constellation Sagittarius until the year 2023. Pluto is observable in the morning hours before sunrise. 

Venus  Pluto

On January 22rd, Pluto will be passed by the Morning Star, Venus,

which will pass within 5°.

Since Pluto rises less than an hour before sunrise, Pluto will be difficult to observe this Month.

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