In the next two weeks the Moon will be observable in the pre-dawn sky making it convenient for all you early risers. The Moon will pass by Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Venus and bright stars Regulus, Arcturus, Spica and Antares, and pass though the constellations Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra , Scorpius, Ophiuchus (Off E U cus), and Sagittarius, and Note: This is based on information for Aurora, CO, but is close enough for use in other locations.
The Moon will go from Full Moon to New Moon (no moon visible) in the next two weeks. Watch how the Moon changes position and phase as it orbits the Earth. Observe the Moon thirty minutes to one hour before sunrise (approximately 6:20am MST) 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’s a pattern our forefathers knew well, but lost to most of us living in the modern lighted world.
January 16-22: The waning gibbous (gets smaller) phases. The Moon starts off as a Full Moon on the western horizon opposite the rising Sun in the east. Over the next six days the Moon’s phase will get smaller or wan as the Moon moves easterly toward the rising Sun.
January 16-17 the Moon moves to the constellation Cancer the crab low on the western horizon. There are no bright stars in Cancer.
January 21-23 the Moon moves to the constellation Virgo the virgin. On January 22 Mars is above and left of the Moon. Below and left of Mars is Spica the brightest star in Virgo. Way above the Moon is the bright star Arcturus in Bootes the herdsman. On January 23 the Moon is just left of Spica. The Moon is also at third (or last) quarter or half moon. At this phase the Moon is approximately in the same place in space the Earth and you will be in 3.5 hours.
January 24-30: The waning crescent (gets smaller) phases. The Moon starts off as a Last Quarter Moon . Over the next six days the Moon’s crescent will get smaller as the Moon moves easterly toward the rising Sun.
January 24-25 the Moon enters the constellation Libra the scales. There are no bright stars in Libra. Saturn is above and to the right of the Moon. On January 24 the Moon is about half way between Saturn (left) and Mars and Spica (right). Way above the Moon is Arcturus. On January 25 the Moon moves just below Saturn, a nice picture opportunity.
January 26: the Moon moves into the constellation Scorpius the scorpion. The Moon sits above the bright star Antares a red super giant. See if you can detect the red hue. If Antares were the Sun the Earth and Mars would be orbiting inside of it. Saturn is upper right of the Moon.
January 27: a thin Crescent Moon enters the constellation Ophiuchus the serpent-bearer and thirteenth constellation of the Zodiac. Astrologically the Zodiac has only twelve. There are no bright stars in Ophiuchus. The Moon is about half way between Venus (lower left) and Saturn (upper right).
January 28-29: the Moon is in the rising constellation Sagittarius, the archer. Sagittarius points the way to the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way. On January 28 Venus is left of the Moon, another photo opportunity. On January 29 the Moon will be a super thin crescent and most likely lost in the sunrise glare. If you want to see if you can find it, the Moon will below and just left of Venus just above horizon. Best to observe 15 to 20 minutes after moonrise (5:49am MST Aurora, CO). You will have a small window of maybe ten minutes to work with before the glare of the rising Sun becomes a problem. Binoculars may be needed. WARNING: DO NOT USE BINOCULARS OR YOUR EYES WHEN THE SUN BEGINS TO RISE.
January 30: the Moon is new rising and setting with the Sun. The Moon has moved from the morning side of the Sun to the evening side of the Sun and not visible for the next few days . This is the second New Moon of the month, somewhat rare. It is commonly referred to as a Black Moon. If it were a Full Moon it would be commonly called a Blue Moon. Black and blue moons have no astronomical significance, but are fun to talk about.
Wishing you clear skies