January Sky Chart

By , Director, the American Museum of Natural History, New York

All Month: After many months as a not-too-prominent evening star, Venus is now glorious in the west after sundown, visible for nearly three hours, improving as it approaches greatest brilliancy in late February to give us a number of weeks of good viewing. Mars, Jupiter's companion of November, is now near Venus, nearly keeping pace as they move left through the stars. Mars does close slowly with the brighter planet, passing it early next month. Look below Venus for Mars, the only bright object nearby. They will be specially prominent near the moon on the 23rd and 24th.

Jupiter goes over into the morning sky at mid-month, showing up as a morning star in February, but not a particularly good one. Saturn improves as a morning star in January, rising about three hours past midnight at mid-month, well up in the southeast by dawn. It is in Libra, to the right and above Antares, the bright reddish star of Scorpius. The moon guides you to it nicely on the morning of the 16th.

The events described in the calendar below are given in local time unless stated otherwise.

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Jan. 1: The early evening moon is in Aries lighting the sky till after midnight.

Jan. 3: Mercury is favorably located as a morning star low and to the right of the rising sun after dawn. Earth is at perihelion, nearest the sun.

Jan. 4: Aldebaran, in Taurus, is below the moon both evenings. The Pleiades, nearby, are dimmed somewhat by the moon's light.

Jan. 6: Full moon is in Gemini, with the bright stars Pollux and Castor to its left. The latest sunrise of the winter occurs today; morning light brightens noticeably earlier in a few days.

Jan. 9: The moon and Regulus, Leo's bright star, rise nearly together, climbing up the eastern sky before midnight.

Jan. 11-13: The moon spends these nights in Virgo, at perigee (nearest Earth) on the 11th, last quarter on the 13th at 6:27 p.m. Eastern standard time. It steadily approaches Spica, Virgo's brightest star, passing above it on the 13th.

Jan. 14: Jupiter ends its recent reign as an evening star when it passes the sun (conjunction) today.

Jan. 16-17: The late crescent moon now belongs in the morning sky. It is close to Saturn before dawn on the 16th, to Antares - Scorpius's bright star - on the 17th.

Jan. 20: New moon, at 9:28 p.m. EST, is in Capricornus.

Jan. 21: Venus, at greatest easterly elongation, is best as an evening star. But not all elongations are equally favorable. Today's is a good one, if not the best.

Jan. 22: The moon should surely be visible tonight after sundown, high and to the sun's left, an ideal location for one to see the slender crescent.

Jan. 24: The moon passes below Venus and Mars in the early evening.

Jan. 25: The crescent moon is at the border between Cetus and Pisces. The star below to its left is Diphda (in Cetus), while Pegasus (note the large ''square'') is above to its right.

Jan. 27: Apogee moon (farthest from earth) is in Pisces.

Jan. 28. First quarter moon (at 10:29 p.m. EST) is in Aries. The bright star above it is Hamal.

Jan. 30: The gibbous moon is between The Pleiades (to the right) and Aldebaran (the reddish star to the left), all in Taurus.

Jan. 31: Mercury passes Jupiter (a conjunction) today. Both morning stars rise too late in the dawn to be visible. The evening moon is above Aldebaran.

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