What’s Above Us – January 2021 Sky Report

Congratulations! You have survived 2020, what many would say to be quite a “lap” around the Sun, and are now in a new year! Let’s begin the year on a hopeful note, rather than a cynical note!

Moon Phases January 2021

Last Quarter Moon January 6
New MoonJanuary 13
First Quarter MoonJanuary 20
Full MoonJanuary 28
Your Deep Sky Viewing Window with no moon interference will be January 10-15

In The Evening

As the evening begins, you should notice Mars right away, as it’ll begin the nights near zenith. Pegasus and Andromeda, and pretty much the entire Fall group of constellations, will slowly begin phasing out as the Winter stars rise and take over the sky. Just east of Mars and high up in the sky, you’ll notice the Pleiades, which will look like a tight grouping of stars to the naked eye even under a light polIluted sky.

If you are looking east and notice a really bright blue star rising – no, that’s not a planet, that’s Sirius! Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky, and is also nicknamed “The Dog Star” because it’s the brightest star of Canis Major – The Great Dog.

In the Morning

Early birds who went to bed in the early evening to wake up early morning might notice how Vega appears low in the northwest after sunset, and before sunrise should notice the bright blue star low in the northeast! Those who live north of 51 N Latitude will never see the star set below the horizon.

With the Spring constellations up before dawn, another bright star which dominates the sky will be Arcturus, which is also often mistaken for a planet due to its bright cream color tint.

Speaking of Planets…

While you might glimpse the aftermath of the Winter Solstice Great Conjunction, Jupiter and Saturn will not be visible in the sky for very long at dusk, and by the time it gets dark, they’ll be long gone. The Sun will be moving in front of Capricorn – NOT Aquarius – on January 20, which will cause you to lose your view of the two gas giants due to the Sun’s glare. Most people will have ti wait until Mid-August before they start noticing them in the evening sky again.

Mars will be near Zenith around Sunset, and will remain in front of Aries. If you watched Mars at opposition, you may be able to see a difference in appearance and angular size as its distance from Earth continues to increase.

Venus will be lost in the Sun’s glare due to being close in proximity to the Sun’s position in the sky throughout January. The same will apply to Mercury!

Uranus will be in front of Aries, near proximity to Mars. Neptune will be in front of Aquarius.

Notable Celestial Events?

The following text is color coded for the Celestial Event Scale.

January 2-3 – Quadrantids Meteor Shower

I’ve been outside during a Quadrantids peak, they definitely can put on a good show if you’re in the right location at the right time. There is good news and bad news. Good News – the narrow peak time is estimated by the International Meteor Organization will be 14:30 UTC, which means it’ll be best before dawn over Western North America. Bad News – Unfortunately, there will be a dominant moon washing out the meteors in the sky no matter where you go. Maybe you’ll catch a good one, but this one won’t be worth losing sleep over.

Mars Meets Moon and Uranus – January 20

While they won’t be anywhere near close to meeting each other at the level we just saw Jupiter and Saturn back in December, this will be a good night to bring out the binoculars or a wide field telescope to check out all three objects near each other in the sky! If you can spot Mars and the Moon, then you can easily look for the elusive planet Uranus which will be nearly in line between the two.

Telescopes set to about 25x magnification can capture both of the two planets, though Uranus will look much dimmer and appear almost star-like. But if you use the following 2° FOV Maps depending on your telescopic view, you can easily find it. Remember, you cannot see the seventh planet without optical aid!

Support Your Neighborhood Astronomers

Most mainstream media sources get their info from people like us, but don’t always get it right! Help support those who observe the sky and look for cool events to check out so you don’t have to!

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