January Astronomy Highlights

Look for Leo the Lion this month.

Look for Leo the Lion this month.

January 6, 2016| Categories: Planetarium News, Skywatch Almanac Astronomy, Space Science

Orion becomes the center of attention in January, with his three belt stars drawing a line to the right, pointing to the red star Aldebaran, the “eye” of Taurus, the Bull. To the left, Orion’s Belt leads to the rising star Sirius – the brightest star in the night skies. The Big Dipper is just starting to lift a little higher in the northeast, while the Milky Way sketches out a frosty path across the top of the sky.

The month opens with Venus and Saturn meeting in the morning twilight, Venus then settling lower, while Saturn gradually moves higher. Also in the morning skies, Mars climbs a little higher, the beginnings of a great show late Spring and Summer. Jupiter starts the month rising near 10:30, but by the end of January it is rising by 8:30.

2 – The Earth is at perihelion, its closest point to the Sun, at 91.4 million miles. Although we are closer, it is the low angle and short days that make it cold.

3 – The Quadrantid Meteor Shower peaks.

9 – Venus and Saturn are less than a finger-width apart in the east-southeast twilight, best viewed from 6:0 until 6:30. Venus is brighter and on the left.

19 – The Moon passes in front of the star Aldebaran late this evening, an event called an “occultation.”

From the Farmers Almanac: Amid the cold and deep snows of midwinter, the wolf packs howled hungrily outside Indian villages. Thus, the name for January’s full Moon. Sometimes it was also referred to as the Old Moon, or the Moon After Yule.

Last Quarter: January 2
New Moon: January 9
First Quarter: January 16
Full “Wolf” Moon: January 23
Last Quarter: January 31

Length of day in St. Johnsbury, VT:

Sunrise January 1     7:24 AM EST

Sunset January 1       4:19 PM EST

Length of Day   8h 55m


Sunrise January 31   7:08 AM EST

Sunset January 31   4:56 PM EST

Length of Day   9h 48m

Tags: Fairbanks Museum, Mark Breen, skywatch