Podcaster: Rob Webb

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Title: Observing With Webb January 2023

Organization: Physics teacher at Pequea Valley High School

Link: ; ;
follow me : @MrWebbPV on Twitter and Instagram

Don’t forget this podcast is found on my Podbean page, Stitcher, and iTunes.  There’s also a video version on my YouTube Channel and I can be found on Twitter and Instagram as @mrwebbpv. The Pequea Valley Planetarium and its events and updates are on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as @pvplanetarium.

Use a sky map from to help you out.


Not too much going on this January, other than lots of planets to see, Saturn and Venus passing within 1˚, and PERHAPS a naked-eye comet.

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Not too much going on this January, other than lots of planets to see, Saturn and Venus passing within 1˚, and PERHAPS a naked-eye comet.

         Welcome to Observing With Webb, where a high school astronomy teacher tells you what you’re looking at, why it’s so cool, and what you should check out later this month…at night. 

Naked-eye PLANETS


  • Saturn – Beginning the month about 20˚ above the horizon in the SW and gets lower and lower each day, fading into the dusk by month’s end.  Fairly dim, but still brighter than all the stars around it.  About 40˚ below Jupiter, and a bit to the right.  Very close to Venus from the 21st to 23rd.
  • Jupiter – SUPER bright in the SW after sunset.  Just find the brightest point of light in that direction, about halfway up the sky, and you’ve got it. Sets between 11pm and 9:30pm.
  • Mars – Look East early in the evening for a dull reddish dot in the sky, above Orion and Taurus, about halfway up the sky. Throughout the month it moves a little bit to the south, and gets a little bit higher. 
  • Venus – Look WSW after sunset. Venus is at the beginning a more than half-year-long period of sunset visibility.  It’ll be low on the horizon throughout the month, but will be the brightest object and probably the first “star” you’ll see.   See how it changes relative to sunset every day.  Very close to Saturn from the 21st to 23rd.

Throughout the night

  • Mars – Look East early in the evening, South around midnight. Sets at 5am at the beginning of the month, and 3:30am at the end of the month.


  • Mercury – Keep an eye out for Mercury in the early mornings just before sunrise.  At the end of the month, Mercury will be easiest to spot right in the SE, but still very low and pretty dim, but brighter than any stars nearby.  Find a good clear horizon and be patient.


Evening Gibbous (Mostly lit, after Sunset)

Full Moon6th (Visible all night)

Waning Gibbous (Mostly lit, rises later at night)

Last Quarter Moon – 14th (Visible midnight into the morning)

Morning Crescents (look East in the AM)

New Moon – 21st (darkest skies)

Evening Crescents (look West after Sunset)

First Quarter Moon – 28th (Visible until midnight)

22nd Conjunction – Saturn, Venus – You won’t see two bright planets this close too often!  Get out immediately after sunset and look SW toward a very clear and far horizon.  The brightest light you’ll see is Venus, and less than half-a-pinky’s-width away to the right is Saturn.  Bonus points if you get them both in a telescope view. The day before and the day after they will still be close, but Saturn fades lower in the sky toward the bright dusk.

22nd – 26th CLOSE ENCOUNTER – Moon, Venus, Saturn, Jupiter – Let’s first imagine the planetary setup on the 22nd.  Venus is VERY bright in the SW right after sunset on the 21st, with dimmer Saturn just ½˚ to the right of it (about half a pinky finger’s width held at arm’s length – more details below). Jupiter is about 40˚ (4 fist-widths, held at arm’s length) above and a bit to the left of Venus and Saturn.

 The VERY thin and barely visible Moon will be about 10˚ (one fist-width) below them, very low on the horizon, on the 22nd.  Best of luck finding it.  On the next night, the 23rd, the Moon moves to be about 7˚ to the left of Venus, and Saturn has now moved to be about 1˚ below and to the right of Venus.  Then, over the next couple of nights, the Moon moves toward, and eventually passes, Jupiter.  Quite a good couple of days.

Comet ZTF – Don’t get too excited, but don’t dismiss this news, either.  It gets closest to earth on February 2nd, so the days leading up to that in January will tell us whether or not this will indeed be a naked-eye comet, or a telescopic object.  Problem is, comets are like cats in two ways: they have tails, and they do whatever they want. According to Sky and Telescope, Comet ZTF is predicted to reach 6th or even 5th magnitude by Feb 2nd, making it a naked eye object in darker skies. It might only be visible like this for a couple days or a week.  Or it might get ripped apart more than expected as it passes the Sun, making it super bright.  Or it might not get bright at all…Keep an eye out on social media (make sure it’s a good reliable source, and not click-bait) for news on this comet.  If you’re looking for it, you’ll have to find some maps online, but you’ll have to look North toward the Little Dipper and Camelopardalis.


Use a sky map from to help you out.

After Dinner:

Cassiopeia, Andromeda, & Perseus -Look pretty much straight up you’ll be able to see Andromeda curving off of one corner of Pegasus. If your skies are decently dark, you might catch the faint fuzz that is the Andromeda Galaxy.  Cassiopeia will be relatively easy to find as the “W” in the sky, whose right angle points right to Andromeda and her galaxy.  Perseus is the other cornucopia-shaped constellation, but opposite of Andromeda, with its curves emptying out toward the Pleiades

Before Bed:

Taurus & the Pleiades – Look almost straight up, but down toward the South a little bit and you’ll find the lovely cluster of stars known as the Pleiades, the Seven Sisters, Subaru, or the mini-mini-dipper. You can easily see 5 or 6 of them with the unaided eye, and perhaps a 7th, depending on light pollution and your eyes.  To the left about 5˚ will be the V constellation of Taurus the bull, with bright red Aldebaran as its brightest, and one eye of the bull. Oh, and if you follow a line connecting these two to the left about 10˚, you’ll find Orion.

Before Work:

Leo – Look South, halfway up the sky, to find the backward question mark and right triangle that is Leo the Lion.

End of podcast:

365 Days of Astronomy

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