Monday, January 9
Although people in the Northern Hemisphere experienced the shortest day of the year nearly three weeks ago (at the winter solstice December 21), the Sun has continued to rise slightly later with each passing day. That trend stops this morning for those at 30° north latitude. Tomorrow’s sunrise will arrive a fraction of a second earlier than today’s. This turnover point depends on latitude. If you live farther north, the switch occurred a few days ago; closer to the equator, the change happens later in January.
Tuesday, January 10
Although Saturn passed on the opposite side of the Sun from Earth one month ago today, it already appears low in the southeast during morning twilight. From mid-northern latitudes, the ringed planet lies about 10° above the horizon an hour before sunrise. It shines at magnitude 0.5, which makes it the brightest point of light in its host constellation, Ophiuchus the Serpent-bearer.
The Moon reaches perigee, the closest point in its orbit around Earth, at 1:01 a.m. EST. It then lies 225,706 miles (363,238 kilometers) away from us.
Wednesday, January 11
Full Moon officially arrives at 6:34 a.m. EST tomorrow morning, but it looks completely illuminated all night. You can find it rising in the east just before sunset and peaking high in the south around midnight. It dips low in the west by the time morning twilight starts to brighten the sky. The Moon lies in southern Gemini the whole night through.
Thursday, January 12
Venus appears brilliant in the western sky starting within a half-hour after sunset. It reaches greatest elongation today, when it lies 47° east of the Sun, but the planet will remain the evening sky’s brightest point of light through late March. It currently shines at magnitude –4.6, some 10 times brighter than the second-brightest object, Jupiter. Venus stands about one-third to the zenith 30 minutes after the Sun goes down and doesn’t set until nearly 9 p.m. local time. When viewed through a telescope this evening, Venus appears 25" across and half-lit. You also might glimpse its outer solar system neighbor, 8th-magnitude Neptune, which stands 0.4° south of Venus this evening.