Wed. Jan 19th, 2022


Sunday, January 16

Pluto is in conjunction with the Sun at 10 A.M. EST. After today, it will slowly separate from our star, moving toward opposition later this year.

Dwarf planet 1 Ceres is stationary at 5 P.M. EST. You can find it after dark in Taurus, less than 6° south of the Pleiades (M45) open star cluster. This 600-mile-wide (966 km) main-belt world glows around magnitude 8, easy for even the smallest scope to pick up, although binocular users may find it a bit of a challenge. One easy way to spot it is to put the Pleiades at the northern edge of your field of view, then drop down to find the stars 13 and 14 Tauri, both about 6th magnitude. Ceres is the next-brightest dot in your field of view, slightly south of this pair.

The dwarf planet will stay in this region of sky all month, now making a tight turnaround and traveling very slowly northeastward, approaching 13 and 14 but passing just southwest of them on its path through the Bull.

Sunrise: 7:20 A.M.
Sunset: 5:01 P.M.
Moonrise: 3:44 P.M.
Moonset: 6:38 A.M.
Moon Phase: Waxing gibbous (98%)

Monday, January 17

Venus, which dominated the evening sky in early January, has now just begun to peek out shortly before sunrise. If you’re up early, see if you can find the bright planet amid the brightening sky. Just 30 minutes before sunrise, Venus floats a mere 7° high in the east. But it shouldn’t be too hard to find: It’s glowing a bright magnitude –4.3.

With a telescope, you’ll see its 1′-wide disk is just 3 percent lit. Through the rest of the month, you’ll see that disk shrink to about 50″ but grow more illuminated, reaching 15 percent lit on the 31st.

To the upper right of Venus in the sky is Mars, shining at magnitude 1.5. The Red Planet spans a mere 4″ — not much to look at through a telescope, but it’s beginning a trek through a gorgeous region of the Milky Way with plenty else to see. Stay tuned, we’ll come back to this target later in the week.

Full Moon occurs at 6:48 P.M. EST tonight. January’s Full Moon is also colloquially known in the U.S. as the Wolf Moon or, sometimes, the Ice Moon. If you can’t catch the year’s first Full Moon tonight, don’t worry — our satellite will appear Full (or nearly Full) for another day or so as it slowly begins to wane.

Sunrise: 7:19 A.M.
Sunset: 5:02 P.M.
Moonrise: 4:41 P.M.
Moonset: 7:26 A.M.
Moon Phase: Full

Tuesday, January 18

The planet Uranus is stationary at 3 P.M. EST. It’s floating high overhead in Aries after dark tonight. All of Aries’ bright stars are in the northwestern portion of the constellation, while Uranus is located in the southeastern region, about 11° southeast of Hamal. (At magnitude 2, this is the Ram’s brightest star.)

If you’d like a closer beacon to locate the ice giant, look instead to 4th-magnitude Mu Ceti in Cetus the Whale. This star is located just 5.3° southeast of the planet. With binoculars or a telescope, zoom in and you’ll pick up magnitude 5.8 Uranus a little less than 0.5° south of 6th-magnitude 29 Arietis. The distant planet spans 4″ in a telescope — the same apparent size as Mars, although the two are of course physically very different in size. It’s Uranus’ vast distance that makes it appear so small: It’s currently some 1.8 billion miles (2.9 billion km) from Earth.

Sunrise: 7:19 A.M.
Sunset: 5:03 P.M.
Moonrise: 5:43 P.M.
Moonset: 8:07 A.M.
Moon Phase: Waning gibbous (99%)

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