January 3rd, 2016
With the new year comes new opportunities to catch the crescent Moon passing the planets in the pre-dawn sky. Early January, in particular, allows us to observe almost every planet now that shy Saturn is now slowly escaping the Sun’s glare. Meanwhile Jupiter, missing from the images above, is already high above the southern horizon in Leo. The only missing planet is Mercury, which is still barely hugging the horizon in the evening sky.
This morning the Moon passes both Spica, the brightest star in Virgo, and coppery Mars. Over the next few days it’ll move along to pass Venus and Saturn on the 6th and 7th. Those two planets are also drawing closer together and will be at their closest on the 8th and 9th.
All Astronomical Events for January 3rd, 2016
01:46 UT – The just-past last quarter Moon is north of Spica. (Virgo, pre-dawn sky.)
02:38 UT – Summer begins in the northern hemisphere of Mars. (91% illuminated, magnitude 1.2, diameter 5.6”. Virgo, pre-dawn sky.)
11:00 UT – Mercury fades to magnitude 0.0. (38% illuminated, diameter 7.8”. Capricornus, evening sky.)
20:24 UT – Dwarf planet Ceres is at aphelion. Distance to Sun: 3.683 AU. (Ceres: magnitude 8.9. Capricornus, evening sky.)
18:52 UT – The waning crescent Moon is north of Mars. (Mars: 91% illuminated, magnitude 1.2, diameter 5.6”. Virgo, pre-dawn sky.)
Events in bold involve objects and/or events that are visible with the naked eye.
Easy Things to See With a Small Telescope
|2016: An Astronomical Year||2016: The Night Sky Sights||The Astronomical Almanac (2015-2019)||The Deep Sky Observer’s Guide|
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