Por tiuj kiuj ne povas dormi

Going out before dawn is a habit I haven’t yet resumed since my misadventure of a month ago – I’ve scarcely been out at all, so the winter air feels remarkably cold.

If you are hardier than me, this is what you will see tomorrow morning.

HO150117moThe picture is for latitude 40 degrees north, but for the longitude of Greenwich. This makes little difference except for the Moon, which at the same time of day in America will be about a quarter of the way on toward its next position.

The Sun is still down south in its winter home in Sagittarius (from which it will soon advance into Capricornus, on Jan. 20). The scene in the constellations to the right of it contains the planet Saturn and the star Antares. And the slender waning Moon, which will have risen somewhat before you, around 4. It passed about a degree north of Saturn on Jan. 16 (at 12 Universal Time, which was 7 AM Eastern Standard Time) and much more widely north of Antares (in the night between Jan. 16 and 17.

Next morning at about this time, the Moon will be lower and slenderer, and it will happen to be at its southernmost for the year. (Its declination, which is like latitude in the sky, will be -18.58 degrees.) This may seem surprising, because as you can see it will be north of the ecliptic. But this is a year when the Moon’s orbit is so oriented that its course lies north of the southernmost part of the ecliptic.

You’ll be very lucky if you can glimpse the Moon on the morning of the 19th, when it is little more than 30 hours before its meeting with the Sun. You won’t be able to see the dwarf planets Ceres and Pluto, but it is interesting to know where they lurk.

Saturn, shining at magnitude 0.5, is a little brighter than Antares at magnitude 1. Saturn will be hovering to and fro most of the year near where it is now, finally to slide forward and pass 6 degrees north of Antares on Dec. 21, again in the pre-dawn sky.

Someone may correct my Esperanto, which is supposed to mean “For those who cannot sleep.”


Raif Badawi‘s second flogging was postponed from today – till next Friday. A doctor said that his wounds from last Friday’s fifty strokes of the heavy cane had not sufficiently healed. We can hope that world opinion, of which you are a part, is having an effect


4 thoughts on “Por tiuj kiuj ne povas dormi”

  1. Hah! All your talk about horny goats, satyrs and frolicking clearly explains a good portion of my personality, astrologically, yes, astrologically speaking, although I admit, I’m not that an avid adherent of that.
    Redrawing some of the constellations, I see an beautifully symetrical harp when I look at Lyra, rather than the lopsided image often depicted in so many books and charts. Perhaps it’s due to the dimmer stars visible under clearer, darker skies. Same’s true for Cyngus; a wider wingspan and feet trailing behind the body. I sometimes wonder what those ancients were thinking when they were making up these constellations.
    And backtracking through some previous blogs…
    For morning sidewalk observersers, I’ve been several weeks sober now, so, Anthony, how DARE you call me ‘otherwise deranged’. I love showing street folks some of the planets, usually at dawn or dusk, mostly for their first time, then asking them how many planets they’ve seen. When the tell me, I ask them if they’d like to see one more and when they say, “Sure”, I tell them just to look down. Yes, the earth is another planet too.
    Another thing I love showing newbies is Venus in the daytime, but I’ll tell you more about that when Guy reports it in this blog.
    I’m sure I have my report of that very old sliver of a moon somewhere, Guy, and when I find it, I’ll forward it to Brad and you too.
    Good skywatching to you all.

  2. Insomniac is another word for one who cannot sleep; So what do you have when a dyslexic anagnostic has insomnia?
    Someone who stays up all night wondering if there is a dog.

    I’m not sure what my personal record is for viewing such an old moon, but Guy, I think you might remember a report I sent you of it, I think it was in an April two or three , maybe even four years ago. Other near record moon sightings have been next days after total eclipses of the sun. It’s way cool seeing the cusps broken into dots of the mountains on the moon, kinda similar to Bailey’s beads just before and after totality.
    It should be rising soon now. So glad I have eastern windows on the top floor of my building. The inner planets are still looking good above the sunset’s horizon and I finally did get to glimpse comet Lovejoy Thursday night through binox and telescope. I’ll pass along a photo some friends of mine got of it…….later……

    1. I think you did write to me about a slender moonrise, but it was long enough ago that I can’t find a record of it.
      Anyone who sees either a very Old or a very Young Moon, that is, the Moon when it may be less than say 36 hours before or after New Moon, should make a careful note of the time and place and all the circumstances and write to Brad Schaefer of Louisiana State University, schaefer@lsu.edu.

  3. The Moon and Saturn were lovely this morning, just above Beta Scorpii. Even through high clouds and patchy fog, everybody shone through the mist. I haven’t looked at Saturn through a telescope yet during this apparition, because he is too low toward the southeast to be visible from my backyard, so I would have to schlep a telescope around the corner. Sidewalk astronomy during the predawn hours is more of a social challenge than in the evening — early in the morning most people are busy walking their dogs, jogging, or getting to work, but you also get the occasional person who’s been up all night and may be intoxicated or otherwise deranged. I have, however, shared some good moments with people seeing Saturn for the first time when all they were expecting was a walk with their dog.

    Regarding Raif Badawi, I very much hope his sentence will be commuted. I expect the Saudi regime will try to do so quietly and to claim benign reasons other than admitting they are caving in to global public opinion. Amnesty International has a petition to His Majesty King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud at


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