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In the Sky This Month

Some of the brightest stars in the sky decorate the long, cold nights of January. Beautiful Orion is in view almost all night, trailed by Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky. All five planets that are visible to the unaided eye are in view as well, adding to the beauty of winter nights.

January 23: Moon and Saturn

Saturn is part of a beautiful pairing in the pre-dawn sky tomorrow. The giant planet looks like a fairly bright golden star, quite close to the lower right of the crescent Moon. A telescope will reveal Saturn’s rings.

January 24: Moon and Mercury

As twilight begins to paint the dawn sky tomorrow, a couple of planets appear near the crescent Moon. Saturn stands to the upper right of the Moon, with little Mercury below the Moon. Mercury is best seen from southern latitudes.

January 25: Shocking Star

Camelopardalis, the giraffe, is high in the north this evening. One of its brightest stars, Alpha Cam, is hot, bright, and heavy. It blows a strong wind into space, which creates a bow shock as the star plows through surrounding gas and dust.

January 26: Kemble’s Cascade

To the eye alone, Camelopardalis, the giraffe, is a dud. Only a few of its stars are visible to the unaided eye. Binoculars, however, reveal several pretty sights. One example is Kemble’s Cascade, a string of about 20 stars along the giraffe’s neck.

January 27: New Moon

The Moon will be new at 6:07 p.m. CST as it crosses the imaginary line between Earth and Sun. The Moon will be lost in the Sun's glare, but will return to view as a thin crescent shortly after sunset on Sunday.

January 28: Lepus

Lepus, the rabbit, occupies a perilous position. It stands below the feet of Orion, the hunter, and to the west of Canis Major, one of Orion’s hunting dogs. It’s in the southwest this evening, to the lower right of Orion and his three-star belt.

January 29: More Lepus

Arneb, the leading light of Lepus, the rabbit, stands below the feet of Orion, which is in the southeast at nightfall. Arneb is only about 13 million years old, yet it’s well into old age. It’s likely to expire within the next million years or so.

Current moon phase

First QuarterFirst Jan. 5, 1:47 pm

Full MoonFull Jan. 12, 5:34 am

Last quarterLast Jan. 19, 4:13 pm

New MoonNew Jan. 27, 6:07 pm

Times are U.S. Central Time.

Perigee January 10

Apogee January 21

The full Moon of January is known as the Old Moon, Moon After Yule, or Wolf Moon.