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Star Gazing -  January 14, 2019

Monday, January 14

• In this very coldest time of the year, the dim Little Dipper hangs straight down from Polaris in early
evening — as if, per Leslie Peltier, from a nail on the cold north wall of the sky.

The Big Dipper, meanwhile, is creeping up low in the north-northeast. Its handle is very low and its bowl is
to the upper right.

And Cassiopeia, a flattened letter M, is nearly overhead in the north-northwest, just beginning to tilt.

Tuesday, January 15

• The Moon shines high due south shortly after dark. Below it by 7° (less than a fist at arm's length), can
you see Alpha Ceti, magnitude 2.5? If so, can you detect the star's reddish orange tint? It's a giant of
spectral type K7.

• You may know where the center of our Milky Way galaxy is: in Sagittarius by the Large Sagittarius Star
Cloud. But that's for summer. How about the galactic anticenter, high in the winter evening sky? Pinpoint
its location at the Taurus-Auriga border, near Beta Tauri, using binoculars and Matt Wedel's
diamond-shaped asterism with his Binocular Highlight column in the January Sky & Telescope, page 43.
Here, you're looking precisely outward away from the galaxy's center.  Moon, Pleiades, Aldebaran,
Jan. 16-17, 2019

The Moon is always waxing gibbous when it visits the Pleiades and Aldebaran in January. (The Moon in
these illustrations is always shown three times its actual apparent size.)

Wednesday, January 16

• After nightfall, look through the moonlight for the Pleiades above the Moon, and for Aldebaran and the
dim Hyades to the Moon's left, as shown here.

Thursday, January 17

• Now Aldebaran is right of the Moon after dinnertime, as shown here.

• Algol is at minimum brightness for a couple hours centered on 6:59 p.m. EST. It takes several more hours
to rebrighten. Comparison-star chart.

Friday, January 18

• Zero-magnitude Capella on high, and equally bright Rigel in Orion's foot, are at almost the same right
ascension. This means they cross your sky’s meridian at almost exactly the same time: around 9 or 10 p.m.
now, depending on how far east or west you live in your time zone. (Capella goes exactly through your
zenith if you're at latitude 46° north: Portland, Oregon; Montreal; central France.) So, whenever Capella
passes its very highest, Rigel always marks true south over your landscape, and vice versa.

And tonight, the bright Moon shines between them.

Saturday, January 19

• The Moon shines in Gemini this evening, with Castor and Pollux to its left, Betelgeuse farther to its right,
and Procyon down below the Moon.

• Sirius twinkles brightly after dinnertime under Orion in the southeast. Around 8 or 9 p.m., depending on
your location, Sirius shines precisely below fiery Betelgeuse in Orion's shoulder. How accurately can you
time this event for your location, perhaps using the vertical edge of a building? Of the two, Sirius leads early
in the evening; Betelgeuse leads later.

• Remember — plan for the total eclipse of the Moon over the Americas late tomorrow night!
current night sky over Nashville, TN
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Starry, Starry Night . . .
"I know nothing of any certainty, but the sight of the stars
makes me dream." -Vincent Van Gogh