Star Calendar Planets:
Moon rises on the autumnal equinox point and beneath Jupiter as the New Year opens. On the 7th it accompanies Venus and Saturn in morning twilight in the ESE and then begins another week or so of moonless dark nights. On the evening of the 19th watch the Moon, high in the south, approach and then blot out Aldebaran – that expected to occur at 9:43PM.
Mercury stands (against the stars) on both sides of the Sun this month. He is stationary on the 5th, on the evening side of the Sun, in Capricorn; crosses the nearside of the Sun on the 14th, and stands again on the morning side of the Sun on the 25th. This appearance is rather poor – but the dates give a sense of how quickly Mercury can change position.
Venus continues to be the dominant “star of the east”. On Three King’s Day morning will occur a lovely morning group of crescent Moon, Venus and approaching Saturn; and the subsequent days too – until on the 10th she sinks below Saturn and begins in earnest to fall into to the morning glow.
Sun is nearest us for the year at this time. The relationship of the timing of the proximity cycle of the Sun (apsides) to the seasons is a strong component of the cycle of glaciation; is one that changes very slowly too. All of modern humanity’s historical records fall within the current warm cycle. Apsides proceed to the same conditions in about 111,000 years while the seasons are retrograde in 25,770 years. Other long cycles also abound.
Mars is culminating (south and highest) between 6 and 6:30 AM these days. He abandons the virgin on the 17th and recovers his balance in the scales. Mars is at 1st magnitude, slightly brighter than Spica to his right. He approaches 3rd magnitude (much dimmer) Zuben Elgenubi this month and will arrive, escorted by the Moon, on Feb. 1st.
Jupiter begins his loop this month, wandering back under the belly of Leo for an opposition in early March.
Saturn is now a definite morning presence, shining as brightly as Arcturus in the morning sky. As the year opens Saturn will be only half as high as Venus at 6:30 AM, but will ascend each morning as Venus slowly falls. The pair swap ascendency on the 9th and by the 31st Saturn will be prominent in the SSE between Antares and Sabik – though one might have to look a little earlier due to earlier sunrise!
Quadrantids are from the upper part of Bootes and their radiant is circumpolar. They may peak early this year so spending the night of 3rd-4th on a cot with feet facing north may reward.
Star Calendar Days:
1 Sunrise/sunset in Spring Valley at 7:21/16:38 (9h17m daylight)
2 Sun is nearest for the year (perihelion), at .9833 of average distance
3 Martian solstice, summer for northern hemisphere
Moon above Mars and Spica, SSE at 6-6:30AM
4 Quadrantid meteors early AM, from high East –
– while looking, find Comet Catalina above Arcturus (with binoculars?)
5 Latest sunrise for the year, at 7:22 in Spring Valley
Mercury stationary to retrograde
6 Moon above Venus and Saturn in morning twilight
7 Moon below Venus and Saturn, (red Antares to the right)
Julian December 25, Orthodox Christmas
8 Jupiter is stationary, begins retrograde loop
9 Venus and Saturn very near, morning twilight in east
14 Julian/Roman New Year, begins 2769 AUC
Mercury at inferior conjunction, crosses nearside of Sun
19 Moon occults Aldebaran, SSW at about 9:43PM
23 Full Wolf Moon at 8:46PM
25 Mercury stationary to direct (normal) motion
Moon rises beside Regulus, east at 8:PM
28 Moon rises below Jupiter, east at 10:PM
30 Moon above Spica, SSW at 6:AM
31 Sunrise/sunset in Spring Valley at 7:08/17:12 (10h4m daylight)