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Nighttrek Report: What to See in the January Sky

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By Neill Simmons

Moon

The highlight of January is the beautiful sight of the thin, crescent Moon and the ring planet Saturn low in the west on January 14.  Go out at 6 pm and notice how close they appear to be.  Look again on the 15th  and notice how far the moon moves in one night.  

Each night in January, look straight overhead to see the king of planets, Jupiter.  Jupiter is quite bright this month.  As the night goes on Jupiter moves lower and lower in the west and sets about 2 am.  Go out on January 18 when Jupiter appears to be close to the Moon.

DAWN PATROL:  If you are up early in the morning on January 4,  there is a meteor shower occurring called the Quadratid.  Go outside with some blankets to keep warm and see a few meteors zipping through the sky. 

While outside in the early morning, the dazzling bright planet Venus rises after 3:30 am.   Our fastest planet, Mercury, is at its highest point in the east near Venus on January 12 after 5 am. 

The full Wolf Moon will shine on January 25 and 26.  This name came about from the wolves that howl during the night from hunger.  

NASA still plans to return humans to the Moon in 2025, however many experts think it will end up being closer to 2027.

FUN FACT:  In 1972 the astronaut, Eugene Cernan, just before he left the Moon surface wrote his daughter’s initials “TDC” in the lunar ground.  These initials stood for Teresa Dawn Cernan.  Because there is no weather on the Moon the initials are still there! This also turned out to be our last Apollo mission.  

January brings us the most famous constellation, Orion!  Look east to see it rise.  It is on its side and a few hours later it will be upright in the south.  Orion is one of the 88 modern constellations.  It is named for a hunter in Greek mythology.  The belt of Orion has three stars that are equal in brightness.  

Look for the famous orange star which is located in one of Orion’s shoulders. This star is named  “Betelgeuse.”  The brightest star in Orion is located in one of his knees and is called “Rigel.”

When not stargazing, Neill Simmons is a Wealth Advisor with LPL Financial in Woodland Hills.  If you have any astronomy or financial questions, he may be reached at 818-936-2626 or neill.simmons@lpl.com.

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