Southern Colorado Skies / January 22 – 28, 2017

Consider a planetarium program to help you plan your observations. There are many commercial products available, and an excellent program (STELLARIUM) is available free at http://www.stellarium.org/.

THIS WEEK

Before dawn on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings, look southeast for the waning crescent Moon near Saturn and Mercury as shown here just before sunrise. Binoculars may help, but beware of the rising sun!

GL-12

Om another note, have you ever noticed what’s called the Winter Hexagon? Look up just after dark, starting with Sirius at the bottom of the hexagon. Proceed clockwise through Procyon, Pollux and Castor (counts as one object here), Capella, Aldebaran, down to Rigel in Orion’s “foot,” and finally back to Sirius. Betelgeuse shines inside the hexagon and forms an almost equilateral triangle with Sirius and Procyon.

The asteroid Vesta is just past opposition, and at Magnitude 6.2 is accessible with binoculars or a small telescope. Sky and Telescope magazine offers a finder chart (and article) at http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/vesta-the-brightest-asteroid-now-high-overhead/.

Friday (January 27)

New Moon at 5:07 p.m. MST)

PLANETS

Mercury (in Sagittarius) and Saturn (in Ophiuchus):

Look low in the southeast at dawn. Mercury is to Saturn’s lower left (east). See the above figure. Look early in the week for Mercury, as its brightness is diminishing every day.

Venus (in Pisces)

Shining brightly n the southwest in the early evening.

Mars (in Pisces):

Look for a faint orange “star” to the upper left of Venus.

Jupiter (in Virgo):

Jupiter rises about midnight and dominates the sky due south just before dawn. The bright star a few degrees below it is Spica (in Virgo). Jupiter reaches opposition on April 7th, which is its closest approach during this apparition.

Uranus (in Pisces):

High in the southwest after nightfall.

Neptune (in Aquarius):

Neptune remains close to Venus this week, but is gradually drawing away.

BRIGHT IRIDIUM FLARES

The following data are based on my location in Pueblo West, Colorado. If you live well outside this area, you should consider checking this information for your site in order to be assured of accurate times, elevations, etc.

Monday (January 23): 5:04:17 a.m. / Magnitude -3.0 / S / Elevation 22 degrees

Tuesday (January 24): 4:58:19 a.m. / Magnitude -6.8 / S / Elevation 22 degrees

Tuesday (January 24): 6:25:07 a.m. / Magnitude -2.8 / SSE / Elevation 21 degrees

Thursday (January 26): 6:47:55 a.m. / Magnitude -8.1 / NNE / Elevation 47 degrees

Friday (January 27): 6:15:55 a.m. / Magnitude -3.8 / SSE / Elevation 24 degrees

INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION (ISS)

These are too numerous to list here! If you’re serious, load the ISS DETECTOR app on your smart phone or tablet.

Carpe noctem

Dave Furry

Pueblo West, Colorado

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