January 2023 Stargazing Guide

Posted on Wednesday, January 4th, 2023

Colourful moving galactic sky appears, then Orbax fades into the foreground.

[Orbax]: Greetings junior scientists, scientists and citizens of this great big weird, wild and wonderful world in which we live. As always I'm your humble science communicator the great Orbax coming to here from the Department of Physics the University of Guelph and I'd like to welcome you to our January 2023 Star Gazing Guide!

Screen fades to black and then Orbax reappears with a Happy New Year sign in the background.

[Orbax]: Greetings star gazers and welcome to 2023, a year which shares the same starting weekday and number of days as 1933, 1967 and 1995.

Background changes to a night sky.

[Orbax]: As we leave the winter solstice of December 21st behind us our daylight hours are actually increasing even though it may seem extra cold and dark this month.

Backgroudn changes to a snowy daytime landscape. 

[Orbax]: As a matter of fact we gain almost a full hour of daylight this month with sunrise moving from 7:54 a.m. on the 1st to 7:39 a.m. on the 31st and sunset moving back from 4:55 p.m. to 5:30.

Background changes through a series of images; sunrise, sunset, an antique star chart appears illustrating the Orion constellation, an image if Jupiter and a fullmoon behind trees.

[Orbax]: This month Orion returns to battle the mighty Bull in our night sky, the giants are out to play, and we investigate what an early full moon this year indicates for our lunar viewing for the rest of 2023. All this and more we just take some time to look up.

Orbax points up in the sky as he shrinks and fades away, screen fades to black. Orbax reappears on a starry night sky background. Planets and constellations appear as they are mentioned.

[Orbax]: The two largest constellations in January are Taurus and Orion. Taking up a large portion of the night sky you'll actually see them move from the East to the South depending on what time of night you're looking for them. That said they're easy to find. We've talked about Orion in the past, easily spotted by the asterism of Orion's Belt comprised of Alnitak, Alnilam and one of the brightest stars in the night sky Mintaka. The zodiacal constellation of Taurus lies directly above Orion locked together in eternal battle. Now besides being a good constellation to learn how to spot Taurus is interesting because it hosts a number of deep sky objects. The Pleiades star cluster, also known as the Seven Sisters, also known as Messier 45, is a cluster of stars that lies 444 light years away. Now while estimates say it's comprised of 3 000 stars on a good night you might be able to see 12 stars with the unaided eye. The nine brightest of these are Sterope, Taygeta, Maia, Celeano, Electra, Marope, Alcyone, the Seven Sisters, and their mythological parents Atlas and Pleione. Now in 1784 astronomer Charles Messier published a catalog of 103 star clusters and nebula he observed with a telescope that we now call Messier Objects. Taurus hosts another Messier Object besides Pleiades, one you've likely seen in the most recent James Webb Space Telescope images. The Crab Nebula is a six light year wide remnant of an exploding star, a supernova. While not visible to the unaided eye you might be able to spot it in ideal conditions with a pair of binoculars.

The gas giants Jupiter and Saturn are bright in our winter sky this month Jupiter sits low in the South Southwest with Saturn even lower near the horizon. Best seen early in the month both planets are bright and easy to spot. If you're looking to spot Saturn get out there early with best viewing around 7 PM.

Background images change as the various names of the moon are indicated. 

[Orbax]: The January full moon is on the 6th and it's known as The Wolf Moon as the call of hungry wolves would often scare early settlers into staying close to their villages. Our January moon remains high in the sky like the Chief Moon of December. The Ojibwe of the Great Lakes region referred to this January full moon as Gichi-manidoo Giizis, the Great Spirit Moon. The Mi'kmaw of the East Coast called this the Tom Cod Moon, Punamujuiku's, noticing the fish swimming upstream to spawn in brackish waters. The Cree called this the Frost Exploding Moon to caution each other about trees cracking due to the extreme cold temperatures. The full moon this year is very early on in the calendar year on January 6th. When a Moon occurs this early in the calendar months the First Nations connections between the Moon and the natural environment results in one of the 12 moons repeating. This happens because the lunar month of 29.5 days does not fit an integer number of times into the calendar year, so some years like 2023 we end up with 13 full moons!

Background changes back to colourful moving galaxy imagery. 

[Orbax]: The Great Spirit Moon is a time to honor silence and recognize one's place within all of Great Mystery's creatures and while we do that let's also reflect on our place in the Universe with all these great many mysteries waiting to be discovered by you, junior scientists, and adventures to be had by all of us! All of it, all out there, when we just take some time to look up.

See you next month junior scientists and don't forget have a science-tastic day!

Image of Dr. Glynis Perrett appears on screen with Royal City Science logo. 

[Orbax]: Special thanks to Royal City Science's own planetary geochemist Dr Glynis Perrett for her help preparing our Star Gazing Guide

Logo of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada appears on screen.

[Orbax]:  and the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

Credits roll.


News Archive