Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Friday, January 1, 2016

January stargazing

This new year looks just like last year. 
Arbitrary divisions of time. 
Happy Random Cut-Off Day!

The new year brings you our 2016 Sky Almanac. It provides month-by-month skywatching tips for the entire year, and focuses on astronomical objects and events as depicted in popular culture.

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Stargazing Summary

All five of the planets that are easily visible to the unaided eye put in good appearances this month. Venus reigns as the brilliant Morning Star, while slightly fainter Jupiter sparkles from late evening until dawn. Mars inches farther from the Sun in the morning sky, as does golden Saturn. Mercury does double duty: It is low in the southwestern evening sky as the month begins, then climbs low into the southeast at dawn by month's end.

More stargazing information

Radio Program Highlights

If you want to start hearing the StarDate program in your area, you can request a station to carry our program by emailing the request to

January 4-10: Moon meanderings. The Moon passes by the "morning star" and some other impressive lights in the morning sky this week, and we'll have details. We'll also tell you how two of those lights will pass just a whisker from each other. Join us for this and more.

January 11-17: Tales of the dog. The Dog Star, Sirius, blazes across winter skies, and we'll have details. We'll also tell you about several stars in its constellation that are actually far more impressive. Join us for the big dog, the Dog Star, and much more.

January 18-24: Gloom and doom. The remnants of a once-mighty comet are all doomed, and we'll tell you why. We'll also tell you how comets may have doomed life on Earth. Join us for gloomy comets, plus a game of stellar "peek-a-boo" and much more.

January 25-31: Battered moons. There's more moonlight than at any other time of the year this week, and we'll explain why. We'll also talk about the winter solstice, the winter circle, and much more to appreciate in the early winter sky. Join us for this and more.

Program schedule »

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2016 Deep Space Mysteries Calendar

From Astronomy magazine and Kalmbach Publishing the Deep Space Mysteries Calendar offers spectacular images of deep space objects. Celestial viewing opportunities and historical events. All major holidays and may other observances. Observing the Full Moon.

Buy now »

News From the Observatory

Solving the Mystery of 'Born Again' Stars
University of Texas astronomer Natalie Gosnell used Hubble Space Telescope to better understand why some stars aren't evolving as predicted. These so-called "blue stragglers" look hotter and bluer than they should for their advanced age. It's almost as if they were somehow reinvigorated to look much younger than they actually are.

Early Galaxies More Efficient at Making Stars
A study published in a recent issue of the Astrophysical Journal by University of Texas at Austin assistant professor Steven Finkelstein and colleagues reveals that galaxies were more efficient at making stars when the universe was younger. The announcement explains the team's earlier discovery that there are a lot more bright, highly star-forming galaxies in the early universe than previously thought.

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About SkyTips

SkyTips is a monthly email newsletter for visitors to McDonald Observatory and StarDate Online. Each issue features stargazing highlights, upcoming StarDate radio program descriptions, and other news. Please feel free to forward this newsletter to your friends and family.

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