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Monthly Sky Report - January 2007

Getting Directions
To find the planets, bright stars and groups, you need to know the compass directions where you watch the sky. Lacking a compass, you can use the sun at the start, middle and end of the day. As you face the rising sun - it will be rising in the East Southeast. In mid day (around noon), look at your shadow which then points North. The sun will set in the West Southwest.

All Through January
During January, there is an average of 9.7 hours of sunlight each day. During January, the sunsets range from 5 p.m. to 5:34 p.m. Sunrises change from 7:36 a.m. early in the month to 7:24 a.m. at month's end. Stars begin to fade away an hour before sunrise and the star groups come into view an hour after sunset. In the early evening, there are two very bright stars visible, golden Capella high in the Northeast and white-blue Rigel low in the Southeast. Look to the left of Rigel for Orion's three star belt. The belt points up and right to Aldebaran, the bright star marking the eye of Taurus. Near the top of the sky is the 7 Sisters or Pleiades star cluster, resemblijng a tiny dipper of stars. High in the North is Cassiopeia, whose 5 brightest stars form a stretched out letter "M". The Big Dipper's scoop can be seen low in the North Northeast. Late in the evening, the bright planet Saturn can be seen low in the East, shining near Leo's sickle.

Sights for Early January
The evening moon is full on January 3rd, rising at sunset and staying above the horizon for 15 hours. Late in the evenings of January 5th and 6th, the nearly full moon appears near the planet Saturn, above Saturn on the 5th and below it on the 6th. Most people will notice the briliant planet Venus low in the Southwest as it begins to get dark. The bright planet Saturn will be seen in the opposite direction later in the evening.

Sights for Mid January
In mid January, the moon rises after midnight and is best viewed at dawn. The early evening will then be great for viewing the bright winter stars, then in the East and Southeast. In the Southeastern dawn, the crescent moon passes by the star Antares on January 15th; above and to the left is the bright planet Jupiter. On the next morning, the crescent moon appears to the right of the planet Mars.

Sights for Late January
On January 20th, a very slender crescent moon may be seen low in the southwestern dusk. Just below and to the right of the moon is the brilliant planet Venus. On January 25th, the evening moon appears half full, offering the best views of its craters with binoculars. At the end of January, you can view both Venus and Saturn on opposite sides of the horizon about 6:45 p.m. As January ends, the moon is nearly full.

Astronomy Activities
Our January 2007 Planetarium presentation is "Favorite Space Questions", shown on January 14th, 21st and 28t at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. The Planetarium is in Tawes 302, near the middle of the Frostburg State campus.









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