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Watch the Moon find planets bright stars and constellations easily January 1-15

January 2, 2014 sky charts
January 2, 2014 sky chartsD. Tondreau

In the next two weeks the Moon will be in the early evening sky making it convenient to find Venus and Jupiter. The Moon will pass though the constellations Capricornus, Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Taurus, and Gemini, and by the bright stars Formalhaut, Aldebaran, Capella, Procyon, Castor, Pollux, Betelgeuse (beetle juice) and Rigel. Note: This is based on information for Aurora, CO, but is close enough for use in other locations.

The Moon will go from New Moon (no moon visible) to Full Moon. Watch how it changes position and phase as it orbits the Earth. Observe the Moon about the same time each evening if you can. After a few days see if you can predict where the Moon will be in the sky and its phase the next day. It is a pattern our forefathers knew well, but lost to most of us living in the modern lighted world.

The best time to observe the Moon is 30 to 60 minutes after sunset unless otherwise noted.

January 1-6: The waxing (gets bigger) crescent phases. The Moon starts off as a very thin crescent on the western horizon near the setting Sun. Over the next five days the crescent will thicken and the Moon will move easterly away from the setting Sun.

January 1 the phase of the Moon in New Moon. You cannot see the Moon because it is behind the Sun. The Moon rises and sets with the Sun. it also marks the transition of the Moon moving from the morning side of the Sun (we see the moon in the morning) to the evening side of the Sun (we see the Moon in the evening). This New Moon is somewhat unique in that it is closest to Earth. If it were a Full Moon it would be commonly called a Supermoon. True be told the Moon comes close to us each month and can be any phase.

January 2 look for a very thin crescent moon just above the western horizon shortly after sunset. The Moon is in the constellation Capricornus, the goat. There are no noticeably bright stars in Capricornus. Below the Moon is the planet Venus. Venus will be visible for the next few days before it sets.

January 3-4 the Moon has moved to the constellation Aquarius the water bearer. There are no noticeably bright stars are in Aquarius.

January 5-8 the Moon has moved to the constellation Pisces the fishes. There are no noticeably bright stars are in Pisces. On January 5 the bright star below the Moon is Formalhaut in the constellation Piscis Austrinus, the southern fish. On January 7 the Moon is at First Quarter or a half moon. When the Moon is at first quarter it is approximately in same place in space as the Earth and you were 3.5 hours ago. The Moon is half way between New Moon and Full Moon.

January 8-14: the waxing gibbous phases. The Moon is no longer a crescent when the Moon is at First Quarter. After First Quarter the moon phases start getting fuller. The Moon continues moving easterly away from the setting Sun.

January 9 the Moon is in the constellation Aries the ram. There are no bright stars in Aries.

January 10-13 the Moon is in the constellation Taurus the bull. On January 11 the Moon is above the bright star Aldebaran. Look above the Moon for a small group of stars called the Pleiades or seven sisters which is absolutely marvelous in binoculars. To the left of the Moon and Pleiades is the bright star Capella, the goat star, in the constellation Auriga, the charioteer. On January 13 the bright star left and below the Moon is Jupiter.

January 14-15 the Moon moves to the constellation Gemini the twins. On January 14 the Moon is next to Jupiter. The two somewhat bright stars left of Jupiter and the Moon are Pollux (lower) and Castor (upper) the Gemini twins. On January 15 the Moon moves below Jupiter and is full . This month the Full Moon is call a Mini Moon because the Moon is farthest from Earth. It is slightly smaller than the average Full Moon. The star Procyon in Canis Minor the little dog is below and right of the Moon.

What will the Moon do in the next two weeks? Stay tuned. Hint: The full moon marks the Moon’s transition from the evening sky to the morning sky.

Wishing you clear skies