Venus begins the year as the Evening Star, the brightest object in the night sky other than the Moon, standing well up in the west as night falls. The next-brightest object, the planet Jupiter, climbs into view in the eastern dawn sky during the month, and is in good view by month’s end. Mars is pulling away from the Sun as well, teaming up with the similarly colored star Antares in the early morning sky.
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In the Sky This Month
January 21: Moon and Jupiter
The giant planet Jupiter is just moving into view in the morning sky now. Tomorrow, look for it to the lower left of the crescent Moon in early twilight. It will climb higher over the coming weeks, making it easier to see.
January 22: Sky Cats
Three cats pad across the sky tonight. One is bright and fairly easy to find, but the others are faint. The brightest is Leo, the lion. Just to Leo’s north is Leo Minor, the little lion. The third cat, the lynx, stretches overhead from the lions.
January 23: Familiar Sights
The eastern sky offers some well-known sights on winter evenings. By around 9 o’clock tonight, for example, Leo is springing skyward in the east, with the Big Dipper standing on its handle in the northeast.
January 24: Fornax
Fornax, the furnace, is named for a piece of lab equipment used by chemists of the 18th century. From the U.S. it’s best seen from the southern states. It stands low above the southern horizon as night falls.
January 25: Monoceros
With a name that means “the unicorn,” you might expect the constellation Monoceros to have an interesting story. Instead, it was created mainly to fill in a dark region near bright Orion the hunter, which is in the southeast in early evening.
January 26: Unicorn Clouds
The Rosette Nebula, named for its resemblance to a red rose, is a stellar nursery more than 100 light-years across. It’s visible through telescopes in Monoceros, the unicorn, which is below bright Orion this evening.
January 27: Moon and Venus
The crescent Moon is in the southwest early this evening. It pairs up with Venus, the brilliant “evening star,” creating a beautiful scene for a winter’s night.
First Jan. 2, 10:45 pm
Full Jan. 10, 1:21 pm
Last Jan. 17, 6:58 am
New Jan 24, 3:42 pm
Times are U.S. Central Time.
Apogee January 1, 29
Perigee January 13
The full Moon of January is known as the Old Moon, Moon After Yule, or Wolf Moon.