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.
The 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