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Sky Watch: January 2014

Our galaxy, the Milky Way. Credit: NASA

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Here are the monthly sky watch highlights. Each month, we share the wonders of the universe to help you explore the night sky from your own backyard. (Note: Times listed below are ET.)

January 2014

by Bob Berman, as featured in
The Old Farmer's Almanac

Earth reaches perihelion early in the morning on the 4th. Venus starts the year too low in the solar glare to be readily seen and is in conjunction on the 11th. It will appear as a low morning star most of this year.

The real brillliancy belongs to Jupiter in Gemini, which receives opposition on the 5th; the Giant Planet, at magnitude -2.7, rises at dusk and is out all night.

Mars rises at midnight at magnitude 1.0; it forms a lovely orange contrast with the blue Spica below it. Saturn, at magnitude 0.6, is a morning object, rising at 3:00 A.M.  Uranus, in the evening sky, will spend the year in Pisces.

 

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Comments

What about the 2nd Supermoon

By Valerie Ann

What about the 2nd Supermoon of Jan on Jan.30? It rises at 6:31AM, 35 min. before the sun rises@7:06AM, so shouldn't the Sun coming up under it make it glow from the bottom or at least have a halo around it when it rises? I don't understand why the new moons of Jan 1st and Jan 30th are deemed to be SUPERmoons when you usually can't see the new moon -- so what makes it SUPER? Also, this same SUPERmoon sets at 5:20PM, just 9 mins. AFTER the Sun sets at 5:11PM. Weather permitting, could that make a sunset more spectacular with a following glowing ring around the moonset magnified in the Earth's atmosphere?
Thanks in advance if anyone shares the answer or shares news ab. any other astronomical event coming up, not mentioned so far in the Sky Watch. :) Val

A "supermoon" means that the

By Almanac Staff

A "supermoon" means that the new or full Moon is near or at perigee--the closest point of approach to Earth in its elliptical orbit for the lunar month. For January 30, the new Moon coincides with perigee (within about 12 hours), and can therefore be called a supermoon. Supermoons are more noticeable during a full Moon, appearing a bit larger than normal. When it occurs during a new Moon, most likely you will not be able to see it due to the view of the rising new Moon being obscured by daylight as the sun rises. Usually, people won't be able to see the Moon until 1 to 2 days after new.

During a new or full Moon, the tides are a bit higher and lower than usual--these are called spring tides. If perigee occurs at the same time as the new or full Moon, the tides are even a little more high and low--these are called perigean spring tides. A perigean spring tide will occur on January 30. Flooding is not usually a concern unless there is a large storm predicted.

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