What To Watch For In The Night Sky This Week

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Each Monday I pick out the northern hemisphere’s celestial highlights (mid-northern latitudes) for the week ahead, but be sure to check my main feed for more in-depth articles on stargazing, astronomy, eclipses and more.

What To Watch For In The Night Sky This Week: January 24-30, 2022

With the Moon waning from full and ultimately rising after midnight this week is ideal for some early evening stargazing. There’s no need to make a major event of it; just go outside for 15 minutes before you eat and try to pick out one of these sights, or a constellation, with a mind to come back the next clear evening to find it again. That’s how best to learn to navigate the night sky±and the beauty of the long nights of winter.

Monday, January 24, 2022: The Moon and Spica

If you’re a night owl or a an early riser then between midnight and dawn you’ll be able to see a 62%-lit Moon barely 5º from bright star Spica. The brightest star in the constellation of Virgo, Spica is one of the brightest stars of all and about 250 light-years distant. Look above the eastern horizon; the sight will rise higher the later you look.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022: Last Quarter Moon

Today our satellite will reach its Last Quarter phase. It means that the Moon rises after midnight, clearing the way for 10 successive nights of dark, moonless skies.

Thursday, January 27, 2022: The Moon and Antares

Have you spotted Antares yet? It’s a big, red and very famous star in the constellation of Scorpius. Tonight it’s about 3.7º from a 29%-lit waning crescent Moon.

Saturday, January 29, 2022: The Moon, Mars and Venus

Look to the southeastern sky before dawn today and you’ll see the pretty sight of a 11%-lit crescent Moon just 2.4º from the planet Mars. You should be able to get them in the same field of view of a pair of binoculars. Venus is just a little further north.

This is going to be a big year for Mars, which will have close conjunctions with both Saturn and Jupiter as it waxes to a bright opposition in December 2022.

Star of the week: Sirius

Shining brightly in the southeast this month is Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky. At 8.6 light-years it’s the closest star to our Solar System that we can view with the naked eye from the northern hemisphere. Find it by locating the three stars of Orion’s Belt and looking to the left and slightly below. Sirius is known as the “Dog Star” because it’s in the constellation of Canis Major, the Great Dog.

Object of the week: the Pleiades (M45)

The closest open cluster of stars to us, the Pleiades is around 440 light years distant. Its six or seven easily visible stars—hence its “Seven Sisters” nickname—are a mere 100 million years old. The Pleiades can be easily found shimmering above the southeastern horizon after dark this week by looking above Orion’s Belt and Taurus.

Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.

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