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See a comet and other tips for observing the sky in January

NASA is back with its monthly preview of what to watch out for in the night sky.

January offers some real cookies, including a parade of planets, a winter dazzle of stars, and even a comet.

planets

During the entire month of January, you will be able to see four planets at the same time, with the naked eye (weather permitting, of course).

First, try looking for Mars in the east, identifiable by its salmon-pink color. Then look for the bright light of Jupiter overhead and Saturn in the southwest, near Venus.

If you’re not sure which is which, download one of these great astronomy apps for Android and iOS, and they’ll point you in the right direction.

stars

The cool winter nights of January offer a great opportunity for people in the Northern Hemisphere to see brilliant stars and constellations.

“There is Orion the hunter; the constellation of large dogs Canis Major; and the lesser-known little dog, Canis Minor with its bright star Procyon,” NASA explained on its website.

“Y-shaped Taurus, the bull, includes the brilliant star clusters of the Hyades and the Pleiades. And just to the east of Orion, you’ll find the bright stars Castor and Pollux, which form the heads of the twins in Gemini.”

Again, if you’re having trouble choosing features, launch your astronomy app.

Kite

The entirety of January offers people in the Northern Hemisphere the exciting opportunity to see a comet streaking across the sky (those in the Southern Hemisphere can see it in February).

Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) can be observed with binoculars or a telescope in the predawn sky, moving rapidly to the northwest.

Currently passing through the inner solar system, the comet was first sighted in March 2021 when it was already within Jupiter’s orbit. C/2022 E3 (ZTF) will make its closest approach to the sun on January 12 and will come closest to Earth on February 2.

“Comets are notoriously unpredictable, but if this one continues its current bright trend, it will be easy to spot with binoculars, and may become visible to the naked eye under dark skies,” NASA said.

NASA describes the event as an “incredible opportunity to make a personal connection with an icy visitor from the distant outer solar system.”

He added that astronomy apps should offer details about the comet’s position for the specific date you’re looking up at the sky.

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