Star Calendar Planets:
Moon waxes from the westward side and wanes on the eastward but Venus (and Mercury) do so in the opposite way.
Mercury is stationary to the stars on the 8th but the Sun’s persistent eastwards motion continues to widen their separation (elongation) until the 19th. On that day astronomical twilight ends at 6:15AM with Mercury just 5 degrees above the horizon, down and to the left of Saturn (12 degrees, SW and less bright) and Antares (15 degrees, slightly S of SW, still less bright). The Moon visits these three in reverse sequence on 23, 24, 25th.
Venus makes her flourish for this appearance during this month as she continues to appear higher each evening, to brighten and to… wane(!) in phase. Venus’ phases appear the opposite way from the Moon’s and, because she gets markedly nearer in the smaller phases, is brightest when less than gibbous. In her cycle, Venus’ apparent diameter expands and contracts 7-fold.
Sun is almost 4% nearer in January than in July; nearest on the 4th of this month.
Mars finally begins to appear slightly lower each evening and is taunted by Venus this month as she sidles up all month to within 5 degrees by month’s end – only to pull away again next month.
Jupiter has been steadily approaching Spica and has the first of a triple conjunction with the star on the 20th; the next being already in Feb as he begins his loop, and the third in September.
Saturn returns with the New Year, now coming into view in the morning for those with a clear ESE view at 6:AM. As the month progresses brightish Saturn can serve as a clue to search for an even brighter, but elusively lower Mercury. The Moon is proximate on the morning of the 24th.
Star Calendar Days:
1 Sunrise/sunset in Spring Valley at 7:22/16:39 (9h17m daylight)
Crescent Moon approaches gibbous Venus in SW as evening dims
2 Moon waxes between Mars and waning Venus, SW in evening
3 Latest sunrise for year (at 7:22 and a few seconds)
Mars now between Moon and Venus
4 Sun nearest Earth (perihelion) for the year
6 Epiphany – when the Magi arrive “where the Star stood”, 12th day of Christmas
7 Julian Calendar December 25th, Orthodox Christmas
8 Mercury stationary (wrt stars) to direct (eastwards) motion
10 Moon rising on the meridian of Summer solstice as Sun sets
11-12 Full Wolf Moon at 6:34AM
12 Venus at greatest angle from Sun for this appearance, 47 degrees
14 Julian Calendar January 1st 2770 AUC
Venus at last quarter phase (watch it subsequently wane, with binoculars)
14-15 Moon passes very near Regulus, seen in east at 9:PM
17 Venus crosses ecliptic northwards
19 Moon with Jupiter and Spica at 6:AM in south
Mercury at greatest elongation. Look SW at 6:15AM, with Saturn and Antares
20 Jupiter conjunct with Spica (subsequently appears east of the star by RA)
23 Moon above and to left of Antares, SE at 6:AM
24 Moon near Saturn, SE at 6:AM
25 Moon above bright Mercury, SE at 6:15 (if you’re lucky)
31 Sunrise/set in Spring Valley at 7:08/17:12 (10h4m daylight)
Venus appears highest at sunset (40 degrees)
Moon, Venus and Mars together in WSW after 6PM