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01/06/2016 – Ephemeris – The bright planet action is in the morning

January 6, 2016

Jan 6.  This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Wednesday, January 6th.  The Sun will rise at 8:19.  It’ll be up for 8 hours and 57 minutes, setting at 5:17.   The Moon, 3 days before new, will rise at 5:46 tomorrow morning.

Let’s check out the whereabouts of the bright naked eye planets.  Mercury is now too close to the Sun in the evening sky, and is only 8 days from inferior conjunction with the Sun.  The next inferior conjunction after this, May 9th Mercury will pass in front of the Sun.  In the morning sky there are four bright planets.  Jupiter will be the first to rise, actually at 10:56 p.m., in the east.  Mars will rise next at 2:20 a.m. also in the east-southeast.  It’s left of the bright star Spica.  Venus will rise at 5:30 a.m. also in the east-southeast.  Saturn will rise at 5:47 a.m. following Venus.  Comet Catalina is a binocular object about a third of the way from the bright star Arcturus, and the star at the end of the handle of the Big Dipper named Alkaid.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Morning Planets

Here of the morning planets. From right to left, Jupiter, Mars and the traffic jam of Venus, Saturn and the Moon. Time: 7 a.m., January 7, 2016. Created using Stellarium.

Planets to scale

The planets to, mostly, the same scale of apparent sizes. Venus is the size of the small gibbous center of the overexposed glow. Mars is smaller than it’s image, about half the size of Venus. Created using Stellarium.

Comet Catalina Track

Comet Catalina’s path for the next week. Note the magnitudes for the comet are about 1 magnitude too bright. It will take binoculars or a small telescope to spot the comet which will not show a tail visually. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

The planets at sunrise and sunset

This is a chart showing the sunrise and sunset skies for January 6, 2016 showing the location of the planets, the Moon and Comet Catalina at that time. Created using my LookingUp program.

Several of the images above are shown smaller than actual size.  Image expansion lately hasn’t worked.  If you are using Firefox, right-click on the image, and then click on View Image.

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