See A Crescent Moon Tangle With Saturn And Venus: The Night Sky This Week

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 See In The Night Sky This Week: January 23-29, 2023

This week is perfect for seeing the solar system. The moon appears this week as a slim crescent in the post-sunset sky. If you follow its progress it will show you Saturn, Venus, Jupiter and Mars, on the way showing you its delicate crescent phase. It ends shining close to the Pleiades, one of the most fabulous objects in the northern hemisphere’s night sky.

Monday, January 23, 2023: Crescent moon, Saturn and Venus

After a conjunction of Venus and Saturn yesterday tonight brings a chance to see a slim 6%-lit crescent moon appearing close to the two planets. All three celestial bodies will appear in a line—a beautiful sight! Look west straight after sunset, but be quick because the entrancing sight will sink out of view soon after.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023: Crescent moon and ‘Earthshine’

The now 13%-lit crescent moon may have moved away from the planets in the post-sunset sky, but as it climbs it gets easier to see for longer. You may also spot “Earthshine” on its darkened limb.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023: Crescent moon and Jupiter

Look to the southwestern sky after sunset and you’ll see a 22%-lit waxing crescent moon shining less than 2º from giant planet Jupiter as Venus and Saturn shine together below. For the latter you’ll have to be outside right after sunset.

Friday, January 27, 2023: Solar system on show

Go outside shortly after sunset and, in a clear sky you’ll see an arc of lights stretching from west to southeast—Saturn and Venus (which will sink soon after sunset), then Jupiter, a 43%-lit waxing crescent moon and Mars in the southeast.

Sunday, January 29, 2023: Moon and Pleiades

Look high in the southern sky tonight and you’ll see a 64%-lit waxing gibbous moon. Slightly to its side will be the sparkling open cluster of stars called the Pleiades or “Seven Sister,”

Constellation of the week: Ursa Major

This constellation, also known as the Great Bear, is visible throughout the year in the northern hemisphere and is one of the most well-known constellations. It is easily identifiable by the Big Dipper, a group of seven bright stars that form a distinctive pattern resembling a ladle or dipper. The Big Dipper is actually part of Ursa Major and is used as a guide to finding other constellations in the sky.

Object of the week: Polaris

Polaris, also known as the North Star, is the brightest star in the constellation Ursa Minor and is used as a reference point for finding direction in the night sky. It is located very close to the celestial north pole, which is the point around which the stars in the northern hemisphere appear to rotate. To find Polaris using the stars of the Big Dipper, follow these steps:

  • Look for the Big Dipper, which is a group of seven bright stars that form a distinctive pattern resembling a ladle or dipper. The Big Dipper is part of the constellation Ursa Major, which is also known as the Great Bear.
  • Identify the two stars at the end of the Big Dipper’s bowl that are furthest from the handle. These stars are called the “pointer stars” because they point towards Polaris.
  • Draw an imaginary line between the pointer stars and extend it about five times the distance between the two stars. Polaris should be located near the end of this line.
  • Look for a bright star that is located in the direction indicated by the line. This should be Polaris.

Times and dates given apply to mid-northern latitudes. For the most accurate location-specific information consult online planetariums like Stellarium and The Sky Live. Check planet-rise/planet-set, sunrise/sunset and moonrise/moonset times for where you are.

Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.

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