As the year draws to a close, it is a time for reflection and preparation for the new year.
Besides making resolutions to lose weight and exercise more, also resolve to enjoy the beauty of the night sky more.
Since antiquity, the sky has been thought of as a bowl or celestial sphere which is directly overhead. The highest point in that sphere is the observer’s zenith. The north and south celestial poles are those points in the sky directly above the North and South poles on the Earth, and the celestial equator is that imaginary line in the sky directly above the Earth’s equator. The celestial meridian is an imaginary circle in the sky that passes through the north and south celestial poles and the zenith, an imaginary line which divides the sky into eastern and western halves.
For the next week, the pre-dawn southeastern sky around 6:30 a.m. will be splendid with Jupiter, Mars, ever-brilliant Venus and Saturn, in that order from highest to lowest.
The waning crescent moon will be moving through this area from day to day. On Wednesday, Jan. 6, the 26-day-old thin crescent moon sits just 5 degrees above Venus, and Venus sits just 3 degrees above Saturn. Nearby, about 5-7 degrees to the right (south) of these beauties, is Scorpius the Scorpion and the red supergiant star Antares at the heart of the Scorpion.