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Home / Explore / Astronomy Info & Events: January

Astronomy Info & Events: January

The Visible Planets

Mercury is not visible early in the month as it is at inferior conjunction, in between the Sun and the Earth, on January 7. By January 16, Mercury tries to get out of the glare of the rising Sun low along the southeastern horizon, however it never gets far enough away to be easily visible from our latitude.

Venus begins to become visible low in the southwestern sky at sunset around the middle of the month. It then begins to gain elevation from day to day, moving out of the Sun’s setting glow, becoming more easily visible. Look for bright Venus to appear near the fainter planet Saturn after sunset on January 22, making for a nice pairing of planets. After sunset on January 23, look for Venus and Saturn just below the waxing crescent Moon.

Mars is found high in the southeastern sky at sunset and is situated amongst the stars of the constellation of Taurus, the bull. Look for bright Mars just above the bright star Aldebaran, the eye of Taurus. Both Mars and Aldebaran will have an orange-reddish colour, with Mars being the brighter of the two. On the evenings of January 2 and 3, look for the waxing crescent Moon near Mars. On the evening of January 30, look for a close conjunction of the waxing gibbous Moon with Mars. Mars, visible all night long, sets along the northwestern horizon before sunrise. Mars will still provide exceptional views through a telescope, as it has been just a few weeks since its date of opposition on December 7. However, Mars will begin to dim over the month as the distance between Mars and the Earth increases. So, don’t miss out on seeing the “red planet” at its best, early in the month!

Jupiter is seen shining brilliantly in southern sky at sunset this month and is found within the constellation boundaries of Pisces, the fish. After sunset on January 25, look for Jupiter just above the waxing crescent Moon in the southwestern sky.

Saturn is visible low along the southwestern horizon at sunrise in the constellation of Capricornus, the sea goat, through the month. It sets about 2 hours after sunset at the start of the month but by the end of the month, it will be lost from view in the glare of the setting Sun. After sunset on January 22, look for a very close conjunction of the bright planet Venus with Saturn, very low in the southwestern sky. Binoculars will give you a great view of this conjunction.

Moon Phases

January 6 Full Moon (The Wolf Moon)

January 14 Last Quarter Moon

January 21 New Moon

January 28 First Quarter Moon

Special Events

International Space Station (ISS) Observable Passes

Look for passes of the ISS in the early evening sky after sunset from January 6 to January 9. From January 12 to 17, ISS passes will move to the early morning sky before sunrise. The ISS will always be found moving from west to east in the sky for each pass, but the height above the horizon will vary from pass to pass. Exact times of these passages for your location can be found by visiting the website http://www.heavens-above.com or by using satellite tracking smart phone apps like Sputnik.

January to February - Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) seen best in the predawn sky but becomes circumpolar around January 15. It's unknown how bright this comet will get but it will be closest to Earth on February 1.

January 1 Occultation of Uranus by the Moon (visible in eastern Canada, not visible in Alberta)

January 3 Quadrantid meteor shower peaks (zenith hourly rate of 120 meteors)

January 4 Earth at perihelion (closest distance to the Sun) 147,098,925 km

Isaac Newton’s 380th Birthday (1643)

January 7 Mercury at inferior conjunction.

January 9 Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) Edmonton Centre meeting

Live in the Zeidler Dome at TELUS World of Science - Edmonton and presented virtually through Zoom.

7:30 p.m. – 9:30 pm

Free for anyone to attend.

See http://www.edmontonrasc.com for more details.

January 22 Close conjunction of Venus and Saturn in the southwestern sky at sunset.