Consider a planetarium program to help you plan your observations. There are many commercial products available, and a very good program (Cartes du Ciel) is available free at http://www.ap-i.net/skychart/en/start.
Comet Catalina (C/2013US10) is still in view – see http://earthsky.org/space/comet-catalina-c2013-us10-november-december-january-2015-2016 and the “finder chart” I posted a couple weeks ago. The comet is now between Arcturus and the handle of the Big Dipper. It’s an early morning target – at 2 a.m. it should be in a good viewing spot. Use binoculars because it’s a relatively faint 6th magnitude.
First quarter is a great time to view the moon because the craters and mountains along the meridian stand out so well in contrast. Here is a basic map of the Moon.
Can you find these objects? Binoculars or a low-power telescope are all that you need!
Saturday (January 16)
First-quarter Moon at 4:26 p.m. MST. The Moon will be in Pisces near the Great Square of Pegasus.
Mercury (in Capricornus)
Lost in the Sun’s glare. On May 9th this year Mercury will transit part of the Sun for the first time since 2006.
Venus and Saturn (in Scorpius)
These two planets remain near each other all week. Look for them in the east before dawn.
Mars (in Virgo)
High in the south at dawn.
Jupiter (in Leo/Virgo)
Rises about 10 p.m. and in the southwestern sky at dawn.
Uranus (in Pisces)
High in the south-southwest sky by early evening.
Neptune (in Aquarius)
Getting lower in the southwestern sky in early evening.
Iridium Flares and International Space Station (ISS)
Sorry – these are too numerous to list here! If you’re serious, load the ISS DETECTOR app on your smart phone or tablet. Alternatively, refer to SCAS member Chuck Percival’s column in the Sunday Pueblo Chieftain.
Dave Furry, SCAS Director of Education