January 2015 – Stargazing

Happy New Year! Wondering what you can find when you look up to the sky this January 2015? Clear, cold winter nights provide an excellent opportunity for skygazing if you wrap up warm and get prepared. In this post, we’ll discover some of the top things to look out for if you cast your gaze upward this month. You might even see a comet!

The Night Sky

With clear skies, all five planets visible to the naked eye can be spotted in the evenings in January 2015. Mercury, Venus and Mars can be spotted shortly after sunrise in the South East.  With Mercury and Venus so close to the intensely bright Sun care should be taken to avoid looking at them whilst the Sun is still above the horizon. Around 5pm on the 21st January, there’s a chance to see a thin crescent Moon, Mercury, Venus and Mars very close together in the South Western horizon.

The sky around 5pm on 21st January 2015 from the UK. Mars, Mercury, Venus and a thin crescent Moon are close on the South Western horizon. Made using Stellarium.

The sky around 5pm on 21st January 2015 from the UK. Mars, Mercury, Venus and a thin crescent Moon are close on the South Western horizon. Made using Stellarium.

Jupiter isn’t too far behind them rising in the East before midnight and staying visible all through the night. It’s the brightest object in the night sky other than the Moon.

Midnight on the 5 January 2015 from the UK. Jupiter, the full Moon and constellation of Orion dominate the sky. Made using Stellarium.

Midnight on the 5th January 2015 from the UK. Jupiter, the full Moon and constellation of Orion dominate the sky. Made using Stellarium.

Saturn, the ringed-planet rises in the South East just before sunrise.

Around 6am on the 5 January 2015 with Saturn rising in the South East. Made using Stellarium.

Around 6am on the 5th January 2015 with Saturn rising in the South East. Made using Stellarium.

As for the stars, well… at this time of year, look out for Taurus the bull charging towards Orion the hunter. This rich area of the night sky provides a visual feast for stargazers. It’s also here that you might see Comet Lovejoy this January. At the start of the month it can be found within Orion but it’s heading roughly north over the following weeks and will pass through Taurus – the good news for observers is it’s getting bright enough to view for the unaided eye. What a way to start the year!

The Quadrantids meteor shower falls in early January, peaking around the night of the 3rd and morning of the 4th. However, with a nearly full Moon the display will be difficult to see. For the best opportunity to see these ‘shooting stars’ head out after midnight away from the bright lights of the city.

The image below shows the sky overhead Glasgow, UK around midnight on the 20th January 2015. As the night of the new Moon this gives a great opportunity to see the the sky without the additional light reflecting from our neighbour in space. You can click on it to make the image larger.

The overhead night sky from Glasgow, UK at midnight on 20th January 2015. Made using Stellarium

The overhead night sky from Glasgow, UK at midnight on 20th January 2015. Made using Stellarium

Sunrise and Sunset times, Glasgow

  • 5th January 2015 – Sunrise 08:46 Sunset 15:59

  • 13th January 2015 – Sunrise 08:40 Sunset 16:12

  • 20th January 2015 – Sunrise 08:32 Sunset 16:25

  • 27th January 2015 – Sunrise 08:21 Sunset 16:39

All the times listed above are local to Glasgow.

Moon Phases

  • Full Moon – 5th January 2015, 04:54

  • Third Quarter – 13th January 2015, 09:47

  • New Moon – 20th January 2015, 13:14

  • First Quarter – 27th January 2015, 04:49

Times listed above are local to Glasgow.

Astronomy Books

Are you just getting into astronomy or a seasoned pro? Check out these fantastic books about astronomy which are accessible for all levels and highly recommended.

This January, get out and look up often to enjoy the spectacular skies!

About Derek Shirlaw

I'm passionate about science communication, social media, and my home country, Scotland. In particular, I have a real interest in astronomy, digital marketing, and the great outdoors.
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