The Moon will be New on January 2nd, and Full on January 17th. The waning crescent Moon is between Jupiter and Saturn on the 5th, passing Jupiter on the 6th, when Jupiter, Saturn, Mercury and Venus will all be to the lower right of the Moon. On the 26th the Moon will pass in front of the double star Zubenelgenubi in Libra, between 5.25 a.m. and 6.40 a.m. approx., start and finish depending on exact location in the British Isles.
The planet Mercury is still near Venus to the left in early January, remaining visible but low in the evening sky for the next two weeks, near the Moon on the 4th. Mercury is at its furthest from the Sun on January 7th, setting about 5.30 p.m.. Mercury is also approaching Saturn, three degrees from it on January 12th, and it passes between us and the Sun (inferior comjunction) on January 23rd.
Venus is initially very low in the evening sky, passes between Earth and Sun on January 9th and reappears in the morning sky mid-month, rising at 7 a.m., near the Moon again on the 30th.
Mars rises at 6 a.m., in Scorpius, near its rival Antares, and moves on through Ophiucus to Sagittarius during the month, passed by the Moon on the mornings of the 3rd and 31st. At the end of the month, on the 29th Mars is not far from Venus in the morning sky, though much fainter. That night, Mars is between Venus and the Moon.
Ceres, the largest of the asteroids, is still in Taurus, and the Moon passes within half a degree of it on the night of 12th/13th January, with the Pleiades above.
Jupiter in Capricornus sets at 8 p.m., and is passed by the Moon on the 6th.
Saturn, also in Capricornus, to the right of Jupiter and much fainter, sets at 6.00 p.m. and disappears mid-month, after a brush with the thin crescent Moon on the 5th.
Uranus, betweenPisces and Aries, sets at 2.00 a.m., near the Moon on the 11th.
Neptune in Aquarius sets at 9.30 p.m., near the Moon on the 7th.
The Quadrantid meteor shower peaks on the night of January 3rd/4th, and will be well seen this year, with no moonlight to spoil it.
After the December break, the next meeting of the Astronomers of the Future Club will be on Wednesday 26th January, at 7.15 p.m., at the RSAS Barassie Works Club, 4 Shore Road, Troon KA10 6 AG. Our November 2021 guest speaker, Matjaz Vidmar of the University of Edinburgh, has suggested a joint meeting with the Scottish Branch of the British Interplanetary Society, on a cultural theme to be announced soon. The AOTF Club has a grant from Troon Round Table for guest speakers in 2022, and we already have some very interesting possibilities. For more information, contact Alan Martin on 07947-331632.
Duncan Lunan’s most recent book, The Other Side of the Interface, was published by Other Side Books at the beginning of 2021, and is available through Amazon or through bookshops, or from the publishers. For details and for his other books see Duncan’s website, www.duncanlunan.com.
Duncan Lunan has written a fascinating astronomy series for The Orkney News. To find it just use the search button.