This is Dudley Observatory’s Skywatch Line for Wednesday and Thursday, January 25 and 26, written by Alan French.
The Sun rises at 7:17 A.M. on Wednesday and sets at 4:59 P.M. On Thursday it rises at 7:16 and sets at 5:00. This Thursday has just over 14 minutes more daylight than last Thursday.
The Moon was new last Saturday and is moving toward first quarter. As darkness falls on Wednesday night, look for a 22% illuminated crescent Moon in the southwest. At 6:00 P.M. the Moon will be 36 degrees above the southwestern horizon and bright Jupiter will be just under 4 degrees above the Moon. As the Moon moves towards its rendezvous with the western horizon it will move closer to Jupiter. By 9:00 P.M. the pair will be just over 2 ½ degrees apart. The Moon will set at 9:54 P.M.
After sunset on Thursday the Moon will be higher and farther south. More of its visible face is in sunlight and it will appear just over 32% illuminated at 6:00 P.M. Its eastward motion against the stars will have moved it away from Jupiter, with Jupiter almost 11 degrees to the Moon’s lower right. The Moon will set at 11:06 P.M. It will reach first quarter this coming Saturday morning.
Venus continues to move higher into the evening sky. At 5:30 P.M. Wednesday our sister planet is a little west of southwest and 13 degrees above the horizon. Saturn is now 3 ½ degrees to the lower right of Venus. Saturn sets at 6:36 and Venus sets at 6:53 on Thursday. By Thursday at 5:30 P.M. Venus is two-thirds of a degree higher in the sky and Saturn 4 ½ degrees below and right of Saturn. Saturn will set at 6:33 and Venus will set at 6:56.
While online research is popular today, it’s hard to beat a well written, properly edited book for starting out in a hobby. A book that has stood the test of time is even better.
“The Backyard Astronomer’s Guide,” by Terry Dickinson and Alan Dyer, is now in its fourth edition, published in September, 2021, and is arguably the best introduction to amateur astronomy available. It covers the celestial targets amateurs visit, introduces the essentials about binoculars for enjoying the night sky, selecting telescopes, and introduces astrophotography.
If you already own a telescope and are looking for suitable celestial targets, “Turn Left at Orion: Hundreds of Nigh Sky Objects to See in a Home Telescope – and How to Find Them,” by Guy Consolmagno and Dan M. Davis, has long been at or near the top of recommendations. Many beginning telescope users have used it to start finding and enjoying the best sights in the night sky.
Guy Ottewell’s “Astronomical Calendar 2023” is a comprehensive guide to the night sky and celestial events for this year.