This Week’s Sky at a Glance, 2023 January 28 – February 4 ~


This Week’s Sky at a Glance, 2023 January 28 – February 4

This Week’s Sky at a Glance, 2023 January 28 – February 4

“Cold wind on the harbour and rain on the road, wet promise of winter brings recourse to coal.
There’s fire in the blood and a fog on Bras d’Or; the giant will rise with the Moon.”
(Giant, by Stan Rogers)

On Tuesday afternoon the constellation Orion, mythological giant son of Poseidon, rises with the waxing gibbous Moon. We won’t see the constellation, of course, until evening twilight dwindles; but over the evening watch him become a New York Giant leaping to catch a lunar football.

When the Moon is full or nearly so amateur astronomers can get a little grumpy because the moonlight washes out the faint galaxies, nebulae and comets. But this time of year the waxing gibbous Moon can play a role in some imaginative stargazing. On Tuesday evening it is above Orion, looking like a football approaching his outstretched right hand. Will he catch it in the end zone and be a hero like Perseus, or miss it and be a goat like Capricornus? With the Moon in Taurus Monday and in the feet of Gemini on Wednesday, we also have a Chicago Bull passing the ball to a Minnesota Twin for an all-star all-sport soccer game. Is that a lacrosse stick in Orion’s hand?

This Week in the Solar System

Saturday’s sunrise in Moncton is at 7:46 am and sunset will occur at 5:18 pm, giving 9 hours, 32 minutes of daylight (7:49 am and 5:25 pm in Saint John). Next Saturday the Sun will rise at 7:38 am and set at 5:28 pm, giving 9 hours, 50 minutes of daylight (7:41 am and 5:35 pm in Saint John).

The Moon is at first quarter on Saturday, and the Lunar X might be seen with a small telescope to the left of the terminator around 10 pm on Sunday. On Monday the Moon passes closely below Mars, and if you happen to be in Southern USA you might see an occultation. Venus sets around 7:30 pm this weekend, a few hours before Jupiter, but that gap will close quickly to a close conjunction in early March. Telescope users might see Jupiter’s Red Spot around 7:30 Sunday and 9 pm on Tuesday. Mars edges above similarly coloured Aldebaran over the week, while Saturn is getting lost in evening twilight as it nears the Sun. On Monday, Mercury is at greatest elongation from the Sun, rising 85 minutes before sunrise.

This Saturday binoculars should show the fuzzy circle of comet C/2022 E3 ZTF a fist-width to the right of the North Star, and over the week it makes a beeline through the dim stars of Camelopardalis toward bright Capella in Auriga. It is closest to Earth (42.5 million kilometres) on Wednesday and therefore it appears to be moving quite rapidly relative to the distant stars. Its location can be obtained on Heavens-Above and other websites. It will be circumpolar, visible throughout the night, all week.

Questions? Contact Curt Nason

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