Dec 19, 2018
by Tre Gibbs, Los Angeles Astronomical Society
HAPPY NEW YEAR!! Winter is in full swing, and while you may not notice it, the days are slowly getting longer. Ever since December 21st, the first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun’s arc across the sky has been gradually making its way north, thereby increasing our daylight and reducing our darkness. It definitely becomes more noticeable as we head into mid to late February but fear not, it’s happening now.
A holdover from most of last year, Mars, The God of War, remains visible in our evening skies all month long. Mars climbs high in the south-southwest by mid-month, but as Earth continues to speed away from it, Mars gradually loses it’s brightness, becoming less like a beacon and more like an average looking star - albeit with a slight reddish/orangey tint. In the early evening skies of January 12th, look for the young crescent moon just below (and to the left of) Mars.
Venus, The Goddess of Beauty and Love, and Jupiter, The Roman King of the Gods are also visible - but you’ll need to get up before sunrise in order to spot these two magnificent wanderers. On January 1st, as some of you may be heading to bed after a rigorous New Year’s Eve celebration - around 6:30 am - look for both Venus and Jupiter low on the horizon in the southeast. Although you’ll need an unobstructed eastern view, since Jupiter will be much closer to the horizon than Venus and of course weather permitting, you’ll be able to see the waning crescent moon just above bright Venus. If you get up early the next morning, on January 2nd, you may notice that the moon, always on the move, is now in-between Venus and Jupiter…and on the morning of the 3rd, the moon has slipped closer to the sun and is now below Jupiter.
January’s Full Moon happens on the 20th this month, at 9:17 pm. January’s Full Moon is known as The Full Wolf Moon, since it was this time of year when hungry wolves would howl outside villages, looking for food. Although the moon is technically full for only a moment (since it is constantly in motion around our planet), it will appear full the night before (1/19) and the night after (1/21). Remember - the full moon always rises at sunset, which is the reason why it appears full.
That’s it for this month - and always keep looking up!
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