Astronomical events of interest for January 2015

January is named after the Roman god Janus or god of beginnings and transitions whose two faces appear on many gates and doorways in Rome. 
This month’s full moon is commonly known as the Wolf Moon. Lesser known but equally appropriate names include Old Moon, Moon after the Yule, Ice Moon, Snow Moon, Hunger Moon, Cold Moon, and the Moon of the Terrible (Sioux). The Lakota Sioux called it “The Moon of Frost in the Teepee”. The Cheyenne call it “The Hop and Stick game Moon”.
  • Farthest from Earth: January 9 (251,909 miles mini-size moon)
  • Last Quarter Moon: January 13
  • New Moon: January 20
  • Closest to Earth: January 21 (223,473 miles super-size moon)           
  • First Quarter Moon: January 26
 Planets Visible:
 Just after sunset:
  • Mercury and Venus (the brighter of the two) will be just above the southwest horizon for the first three weeks in January. Mercury is the most difficult of visible planets to see because it is always close to Sun. The pair will be closest on January11. Venus will continue to be visible the rest of the month.
Early evening:
  • Mars will be low in southwest (Mars will appear in about the same position all month as it did last month). Watch the background stars pass by.
  • Jupiter will be visible around 8:15pm at the beginning of the month.
Morning before sunrise:
  • Saturn is visible in the southeast
  • January 18: Sun enters the astronomical constellation Capricornus.
  • January 21: The Sun enters the astrological sign Aquarius.
  • January 31: Sunrise 7:08am MST, Sunset 5:16pm MST                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Meteors:
   Special Events:
 January 1-22 evening: Look to the southeast just after sunset. Venus and Mercury will be in conjunction (close together). The planets will be closing in on each other from January 1 to January 11. The pair will be closest on January 11. From January 11 to the end of the month the gap between the two will widen. Mercury will be lost in the glare of the Sun around January 25.
  • January 13 morning: A last quarter moon will be next to Spica. Both are in the constellation Virgo the virgin. Look east around 6:15am MST (sunrise 7:15am MST).
  • January 16 morning: A crescent moon will be next to Saturn. Saturn is in the constellation Libra the scales. The Moon is in Scorpius the scorpion. Look east around 6:15am MST (sunrise 7:18am MST).
  • January 22 evening: Look to the southwest. A thin crescent moon will be just to the right of Mars. Both will be in the constellation Aquarius.
  • January 28-29 evening: The Moon passes by Aldebaran, the brightest star in Taurus the bull. On January 28 the Moon is to the right of Aldebaran. On January 29 the Moon will be to the left of Aldebaran.
  • January 24 evening: Chamberlin Observatory open house weather permitting. The observatory’s 20” telescope and telescopes belonging to members of the Denver Astronomical Society will be available for viewing. The event starts at 5:30 pm. Click here for more information.
 Historical Trivia
  • January 19, 2006: NASA launches the New Horizons craft, a mission to Jupiter and Pluto. NOTE: The spacecraft will be at closest approach to Pluto at 5:49:59am MDT on July 14, 2015
 Wishing you clear skies

The Star Spangled Radio Hour

KEZW and our friends at the Glenn Miller Archive at the University of Colorado present the Star Spanged Radio Hour, Saturday night at 6pm.  Rick and Dennis Spragg introduce live big band radio broadcasts from the 30s and 40s that haven't been heard since they originally aired.  It's our time capsule from the big band era and you can only hear it on AM 1430!  Miss a show?  Click here.

Rick's Thought for the Day


Thought 1.27.15

"There is no such thing in anyone's life as an unimportant day"

Alexander Woollcott