Diary of Astronomical Phenomena for January

Diary of Astronomical Phenomena for January 2015
For the star map click here
For the Star Gazing in January  click here

As the year begins we have no planet in the evening sky.  Only Mercury can be seen above the western horizon at sunset and that too just for a few days.  By end of the first week it would be too close to the sun.

But as the night progresses close to midnight  Jupiter makes it appearance above the eastern horizon. It is nearly overhead at sunrise.  On 27th Jan near full moon is just about three degrees from it.

In the predawn sky we have Saturn, Mars and Venus. Angular distance between Venus and Sun is decreasing and later it too will be too close to the sun to be seen and would appear above the western horizon after sunset.

The first half of Jan ’16 is full of nice planetary conjunctions and formation with a star Antares (Jyestha).  As the month begins Saturn, Venus and Antares makes a nice right angle triangle. Three of them are within a circle of 10 deg.

On 4th about 31% illuminated lunar disk can be seen right below Mars. Then on 7th thin lunar crescent, Venus and Saturn are within 7 deg field of view – all of them in the same field of binoculars.

Venus and Saturn are real close on 9th . They are just about 5 min of arc from each other.  If your telescope field of view is half a degree then you must not miss this – both of them can be seen together in the eyepiece.

Venus is waning gibbous about 14 sec of arc. Saturn’s equatorial and polar diameter would be 15″ and 14″ respectively.  The angular size of its rings would be: major axis 35″ and minor axis: 15.3″ .  Consider this is a big photo-opportunity  if your camera field of view is 10 to 15 min of arc. It would be a challenge to get a good picture as  Saturn is 0.5 mag where as Venus is -4 mag. which amounts brightness difference of 63x.

On 3rd Jan at 4:18 IST earth will be at perihelion, its closest point from the sun.  It will be 147 million km from the sun or 0.983 astronomical unit.

Phases of the Moon (timings in IST hh:mm)
Last quarter:  02-Jan 2016       10:59
New moon:  10-Jan-2016       07:00
First quarter: 16-Jan-2016      23:26
Full moon:     24-Jan-2016    01:45


Mercury – Budha – बुध
Venus – Shukra  – शुक्र
Mars – Mangal – मंगल
Jupiter – Guru, Bruhaspati – गुरू, बृहस्पती
Saturn – Shani – शनी

Sagittarius – धनु
Capricornus – मकर
Libra – तुला
Scorpius – वृश्चिक
Leo – सिंह

Regulus –  मघा


About skytonight

I am the present Director of Nehru Planetarium of Nehru Centre Mumbai, India I like to talk about astronomy and sky observations to general public.
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