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Kiss the Sky Tonight -- Month of January 2023

Posted by Guy Pirro   01/04/2023 07:07PM

Kiss the Sky Tonight -- Month of January 2023

The Rosette Nebula (NGC 2237, C49) is not the only cosmic cloud of gas and dust to evoke the imagery of flowers, but it is the most famous. At the edge of a large molecular cloud in Monoceros some 5000 light years away, the petals of this cosmic rose are actually a stellar nursery. The lovely, symmetric shape is sculpted by the winds and radiation from its central cluster of hot young, O-type stars. Stars in the energetic cluster, cataloged are only a few million years young, while the central cavity in the Rosette Nebula, is about 50 light-years in diameter. The nebula can be seen with a small telescope. [Video and Content Credits: NASA, the Office of Public Outreach – Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), JPL – Caltech, Preston Dyches, Christopher Harris, and Lisa Poje with subject matter guidance provided by Bill Dunford, Gary Spiers, and Lyle Tavernier] [Image Credit: Brian Feldman, Astromart Gallery Contributor - Takahashi FSQ106 (530mm @ f/5), Guide scope: William Yang 80mm Megrez, Camera: Pentax 67, Film: E200 color slide film (120), Mount: Takahashi NJP-160, Exposure: 25 minutes, Sky conditions: 6/10, Scanning: 300 dpi (21M raw), Processing: Photoshop 5.0]


Kiss the Sky Tonight -- Month of January 2023

Happy New Year and welcome to the night sky report for January 2023 -- Your guide to the constellations, deep sky objects, planets, and celestial events that are observable during the month. The January sky is filled with bright stars in the constellations Orion, Taurus, Gemini, Canis Major, and Canis Minor. Find these cosmic gems by looking toward the southeast in the first few hours after it gets dark. The northern hemisphere also features beautiful views of Capella - a pair of giant yellow stars, Aldebaran - a red giant star, two star clusters - the Hyades (Caldwell 41) and the Pleiades (M45), and the Crab Nebula (M1, NGC 1952). As a special treat during the month, Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is observable with binoculars or a small telescope in the predawn sky for Northern Hemisphere observers as it works its way swiftly across the northern sky. The night sky is truly a celestial showcase. Get outside and explore its wonders from your own backyard.

All month after sunset, you can see four planets without the aid of binoculars or a telescope. You'll find Mars in the east, Jupiter high overhead, and Saturn in the southwest with Venus. From about January 18th to the 24th, watch Venus cross paths with Saturn as the glow of sunset fades. Look for the pair low in the southwest about 45 minutes after the Sun dips below the horizon. The two planets appear at their closest on January 22, when they'll be only a third of a degree apart on the sky. You'll be able to capture both of them in the same field of view through binoculars or a small telescope. On January 23rd, the two planets are still only a degree apart, and will be joined by a slim crescent moon. On January 25th, to the southwest 30-45 minutes after sunset, look high above Venus and Saturn to find the Moon only a degree apart from Jupiter, about halfway up the sky.



January nights are filled with bright stars. Looking toward the south or southeast in the first few hours after dark, you'll spy the bright constellations of winter in the Northern Hemisphere: Of course there's Orion the hunter; the big dog constellation Canis Major; and the lesser known little dog, Canis Minor with its bright star Procyon. Y-shaped Taurus, the bull, includes the bright Hyades and Pleiades star clusters. And just east of Orion, you'll find the bright stars Castor and Pollux, which form the heads of the twins in Gemini. Make sure you take a moment to appreciate the beauty of the January sky, which more than meets the definition of "star studded," with so much to marvel at.

Orion the hunter is the centerpiece constellation in January, striding into the night sky with a belt of three stars. Above Orion lies a five-sided figure that forms Auriga, the charioteer, who was associated with goats. Its brightest star is Capella, which is actually a pair of giant yellow stars.

Auriga balances on a horn of Taurus the bull. In Greek mythology, Taurus was seen as the god Zeus in disguise. His eye is orange Aldebaran, a red giant star nearing the end of its life. A number of the stars that form the bull’s V-shaped head are part of a star cluster called the Hyades.

The bull’s shoulder is marked by the distinctive Pleiades star cluster, also called the Seven Sisters. The cluster contains more than 250 stars, but only six or seven are visible to the naked eye. The view of the Pleiades from the Palomar Observatory shows the brightest stars surrounded by a dusty cloud. The dust reflects the blue light of these hot stars.

At the tip of Taurus’s horn lies the Crab Nebula. The Crab is the remains of a star that exploded as a supernova, observed by Chinese, Japanese, and Arab astronomers in 1054. Telescopes on the ground and in space have observed different forms of light given off by the Crab Nebula. Different wavelengths of visible and invisible light reveal details of the supernova remnant. Combining information from different wavelengths helps us to better understand the expanding cloud of glowing gas and the spinning neutron star that remains at its core.



A recently discovered comet provides a special treat during the month. It is now passing through the inner Solar System and should be visible with a telescope and likely with binoculars. The comet, which has a mouthful of a name – C/2022 E3 (ZTF) – was first sighted in March last year, when it was already inside the orbit of Jupiter. It makes its closest approach to the Sun on January 12, and then passes closest to Earth on February 2.

Comets are notoriously unpredictable, but if this one continues its current trend in brightness, it'll be easy to spot with binoculars, and it's just possible it could become visible to the unaided eye under dark skies.

Observers in the Northern Hemisphere will find the comet in the morning sky, as it moves swiftly toward the northwest during January. (It'll become visible in the Southern Hemisphere in early February.) This comet isn't expected to be quite the spectacle that Comet NEOWISE was back in 2020. But it's still an awesome opportunity to make a personal connection with an icy visitor from the distant outer solar system.

The night sky is always a celestial showcase. Explore its wonders from your own backyard.

The following Deep Sky Objects are found in constellations that peak during the month. Some can be viewed with a small telescope, but the majority will require a moderate to large telescope. The following is adapted from my personal viewing list: "The Guy Pirro 777 Best and Brightest Deep Sky Objects."


Constellation: Auriga

IC 405                          Diffuse Nebula           C31 Flaming Star Nebula

IC 2149                        Planetary Nebula        P126

NGC 1664                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H59-8

NGC 1778                    Open Cluster               P68

NGC 1857                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H33-7

NGC 1883                    Open Cluster               P211

NGC 1893                    Open Cluster               P69

NGC 1907                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H39-7

NGC 1912                    Open Cluster               M38

NGC 1931                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H261-1

NGC 1960                    Open Cluster               M36

NGC 2099                    Open Cluster               M37

NGC 2126                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H68-8

NGC 2192                    Open Cluster               P212

NGC 2281                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H71-8


Constellation: Canis Major

IC 468                          Diffuse Nebula           P132

IC 2165                        Planetary Nebula        P133

NGC 2204                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H13-7

NGC 2207                    Galaxy                         P216

- IC 2163                    Galaxy                              - Interacting with P216

NGC 2217                    Galaxy                         P72

NGC 2243                    Open Cluster               P134

NGC 2287                    Open Cluster               M41

NGC 2345                    Open Cluster               P73

NGC 2354                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H16-7

NGC 2359                    Diffuse Nebula             P20 Thor’s Helmet

NGC 2360                    Open Cluster               C58, Herschel 400 H12-7

NGC 2362                    Open Cluster               C64, Herschel 400 H17-7 Tau Canis Major Cluster

NGC 2367                    Open Cluster               P74

NGC 2374                    Open Cluster               P75

NGC 2383                    Open Cluster               P135

NGC 2384                    Open Cluster               P76


Constellation: Canis Minor



Constellation: Gemini

IC 2157                        Open Cluster               P156

NGC 2129                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H26-8

NGC 2158                    Globular Cluster          Herschel 400 H17-6

NGC 2168                    Open Cluster               M35

NGC 2266                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H21-6

NGC 2304                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H2-6

NGC 2331                    Open Cluster               P157

NGC 2355                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H6-6

NGC 2371                    Planetary Nebula        Herschel 400 H316-2 (South) Paired with H317-2

NGC 2372                    Planetary Nebula        Herschel 400 H317-2 (North) Paired with H316-2

NGC 2392                    Planetary Nebula        C39, Herschel 400 H45-4 Eskimo Nebula

NGC 2395                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H11-8

NGC 2420                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H1-6


Constellation: Lepus

IC 418                          Planetary Nebula        P90 Spirograph Nebula

NGC 1904                    Globular Cluster          M79

NGC 1964                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H21-4


Constellation: Monoceros

NGC 2185                    Diffuse Nebula             Herschel 400 H20-4

NGC 2215                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H20-7

NGC 2232                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H25-8

NGC 2236                    Open Cluster               P163

NGC 2237                    Diffuse Nebula             C49 - Rosette Nebula

     - NGC 2238             Diffuse Nebula                             - Part of C49

     - NGC 2246             Diffuse Nebula                             - Part of C49

NGC 2244                    Open Cluster               C50, Herschel 400 H2-7

NGC 2250                    Open Cluster               P164

NGC 2251                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H3-8

NGC 2252                    Open Cluster               P91

NGC 2254                    Open Cluster               P165

NGC 2262                    Open Cluster               P231

NGC 2259                    Open Cluster               P232

NGC 2261                    Diffuse Nebula             C46 Hubble’s Variable Nebula

NGC 2264                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H27-5, H5-8 Christmas Tree Cluster

NGC 2269                    Open Cluster               P166

NGC 2286                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H31-8

NGC 2299                    Open Cluster               P167

NGC 2301                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H27-6

NGC 2309                    Open Cluster               P233

NGC 2311                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H60-8

NGC 2323                    Open Cluster               M50

NGC 2324                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H38-7

NGC 2335                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H32-8

NGC 2343                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H33-8

NGC 2353                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H34-8

NGC 2368                    Open Cluster               P235

NGC 2506                    Open Cluster               C54, Herschel 400 H37-6


Constellation: Orion

IC 434                          Diffuse Nebula            P92 Horsehead Nebula

NGC 1662                    Open Cluster               P39

NGC 1788                    Diffuse Nebula             Herschel 400 H32-5

NGC 1976                    Open Cluster               M42 Great Orion Nebular Cluster

NGC 1977                    Open Cluster               P40 Running Man Nebular Cluster

     - NGC 1973             Diffuse Nebula                             - Part of P40

     - NGC 1975             Diffuse Nebula                             - Part of P40

NGC 1980                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H31-5

NGC 1981                    Open Cluster               P41

NGC 1982                    Diffuse Nebula             M43 DeMairan Nebula

NGC 1999                    Diffuse Nebula             Herschel 400 H33-4

NGC 2022                    Diffuse Nebula             Herschel 400 H34-4

NGC 2023                    Diffuse Nebula             P93

NGC 2024                    Diffuse Nebula             Herschel 400 H28-5 Flame Nebula

NGC 2039                    Open Cluster               P94

NGC 2068                    Diffuse Nebula             M78

NGC 2071                    Diffuse Nebula             P42

NGC 2112                    Open Cluster               P170

NGC 2141                    Open Cluster               P171

NGC 2143                    Open Cluster               P172

NGC 2169                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H24-8

NGC 2175                    Open Cluster               P43

     - NGC 2174             Diffuse Nebula                             - Part of P43

     - IC 2159                 Diffuse Nebula                             - Part of P43

NGC 2186                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H25-7

NGC 2194                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H5-6


Constellation: Taurus

Messier 45                  Open Cluster               M45 Pleiades

Caldwell 41                 Open Cluster               C41 Hyades

IC 1995                        Diffuse Nebula          P64

NGC 1514                    Planetary Nebula        P120

NGC 1554                    Diffuse Nebula           P200 Von Struve’s Lost Nebula

NGC 1555                    Diffuse Nebula           P201 Hind’s Variable Nebula

NGC 1647                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H8-8

NGC 1750                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H43-8

NGC 1807                    Open Cluster               P65

NGC 1817                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H4-7

NGC 1952                    Diffuse Nebula             M1 Crab Nebula



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