January 11-14, 2022: The moon moves from Aries into Taurus. On January 12, the lunar orb is near the Pleiades. It is near the Hyades on January 13. The moon is between the Bull’s horns on the next evening.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
The bright waning gibbous moon is in the eastern sky during mid-January, moving from Aries to Taurus. The reflected sunlight is bright enough to illuminate the ground and to cast shadows.
The easy parts of the Bull to locate are the Pleiades star cluster, riding on the Bull’s back, The Hyades cluster with Aldebaran, making the animal’s head, and the tips of the horns, marked by Elnath and Zeta Tauri.
The Hyades with Aldebaran appear as a letter “V” that is tipped on its side. The bright star marks an eye. Epsilon Tauri (ε Tau on the chart) is on the opposite side of the letter “V” from Aldebaran. The moon is nearby on January 13.
Step outside about an hour after sunset as night falls. Take along a binocular to help see the starry background in the moon’s vicinity. Here’s what to look for.
January 11: The bright moon, 71% illuminated, is nearly two-thirds of the way up in the sky above the southeast horizon. It is in front of the constellation Aries. The lunar orb is over 14° to the lower left of Hamal, the brightest star in the constellation, and the same distance to the right of the Pleiades star cluster.
January 12: The lunar orb, 79% illuminated, is over 50° above the south-southeast horizon, and 5.0° to the lower right of the Pleiades star cluster. The gibbous moon and the entire cluster fit into a binocular field. Move the binocular so that only the cluster is in the field of view. Without the moon’s glare, how many stars can you count in the stellar bundle?
January 13: The moon, 86% illuminated, is 3.4° to the upper left of Epsilon Tauri. Use a binocular to see the moon, Aldebaran, and Epsilon in the field together. Then move the binocular slightly to remove the moon from the field of view and spot the entire “V” shape of stars.
January 14: The moon is less than halfway up in the east and it is 93% illuminated. It seems to be caught between the bull’s horns – Elnath and Zeta Tauri – this evening.
During the next three evenings the moon moves farther eastward and near the stars of Gemini.
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