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Stargazers catch more than a glimpse of Jupiter during January

Whether or not you're a stargazer, you can't help but be excited about an opportunity to catch a glimpse of the planet Jupiter.

Although Jupiter appears much smaller than the moon, it's actually just much further away from Earth
Sandy Wallace

During January, Jupiter is visible with the naked eye in the East sky, according to Use a telescope and you'll also see Jupiter's four largest moons.

Jupiter is the brightest object in the sky from dusk until dawn all month, but the planet is most easily seen on Jan. 13 and Jan. 14, when Jupiter appears beside the moon.

Although Jupiter looks like a tiny star beside the moon, that's only because Jupiter is nearly 1,600 miles further away than the moon is.

There will be plenty of action in the skies this month. The smallest full moon of the year, known as the micro-moon, will be in the sky on Wednesday, Jan. 15.

Venus will be visible before dawn during the second half of January; however, you'll need a telescope or binoculars to get a good view. Look for Venus a few hours before dawn on or around around Jan. 20.

Saturn will be visible for early birds during late January. Check the skies at about 1 to 2 a.m. near the end of the month. Use a telescope and you may also be able to see Saturn's rings.

Mercury will appear after sunset during the second half of January. Mercury will become visible starting around Jan. 19, but will be easier to find using the moon on Jan. 31.

Mars will be visible near the moon between midnight and dawn on Jan. 22 and Jan. 23, but will be bright in the sky during the whole month of January.

All five of these visible planets can be seen without using binoculars or telescopes because their disks reflect the sunlight. Look for Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn during the month of January.

You can stay on top of all of the activity in the sky by following EarthSky on their Facebook page. Stargazing is a fun activity for people of all ages to enjoy alone or with friends.

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