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Observer’s Challenge – The Moon’s Tour past the Planets in Early January

In Early January 2022, the Moon takes a tour past several of the planets in the Solar System in the early evening, just after sunset. This challenge takes several forms.

  1. It is soon after sunset, the time of which depends on where you are, thus the lightness of the sky will be a challenge
  2. Not all the planets can be seen without optical aid
  3. Which of these aids do you decide to use or not?
  4. The Moon’s phase is at a slowly increasing ‘evening crescent’
  5. Is it possible to see both the Moon and planet(s) in the same field of view?
  6. Is this to be a visual or photographic challenge or both?

Shown below are five screenshots from SkySafari Pro from Mon Jan 3rd to Fri 7th Jan, each at 16.45pm, taken as at my location in Somerset.

Use https://sunrisesunsetmap.com/ to find your local times of sunset and moon set etc.

So the challenge of this challenge is deciding which of the various challenges you may want to set yourself!

Of course, some of the planets can be seen in a dark sky if you wait until later in the evening. However, if you wish to capture as many planets as possible in one image then there are various considerations to be made.

On the 3rd January the thin crescent of the Moon is close to Mercury, Venus and Pluto.

On the 4th January the thin crescent of the Moon is close to Saturn


On the 5th January the the Moon is nearly South of Jupiter

On the 6th January the the Moon is nearly East of Jupiter

On the 7th January the the Moon is near Neptune

Good Luck. Please post/send any images, drawings, comments, observations to the various section directors (https://britastro.org/sections) , as appropriate, or post into you member’s area (https://britastro.org/observations/user.php) on the website.

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