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Moon, Orion, Scorpion, planets

Tonight – January 20, 2016 – the waxing gibbous moon shines to the north of the constellation Orion the Hunter. The moon and Orion will reach their highest point for the night around 9 to 10 p.m. local time. Afterwards, the moon and Orion will swing westward and downward, to set in the west in the wee hours before dawn.

From northerly latitudes, we see the moon high above Orion in the southern sky. South of the equator, the moon shines below an “upside-down” Orion in the northern sky.

Around the world, the constellation Orion and the constellation Scorpius are never seen in the same sky together. Therefore, you won’t see Scorpius the Scorpion rising in the southeast until after Orion the Hunter has already set in the west. In the predawn/dawn hours tomorrow, look for the planet Saturn near Antares, brightest star in the constellation Scorpius the Scorpion in the southeast corner of sky.

See all five bright planets at once, before dawn, beginning this week through mid-February

Moon and Orion, caught by Raul Cortes in Monterrey, Mexico, on January 20, 2016. Every year, when the moon passes Orion in January, the moon will be at about the same phase ... because Orion will be at the same point in our sky.  However, the date will change from year to year.

Moon and Orion, caught by Raul Cortes in Monterrey, Mexico, on January 20, 2016. Every year, when the moon passes Orion in January, the moon will be at about the same phase … because Orion will be at the same point in our sky. However, the date will change from year to year.

This year, in the January of 2016, four planets adorn the morning sky: Venus, Saturn, Mars and Jupiter. Mercury might join the grand planet procession as early as January 20, 2016.. Draw an imagainary line from Saturn through Venus to locate Mercury near the horizon. Read more.

This year, in January of 2016, four planets adorn the morning sky: Venus, Saturn, Mars and Jupiter. Mercury will be joining the grand planet procession as early as January 20, 2016, and then we will see all five bright planets together before dawn for about a month, for the first time since 2005. Draw an imagainary line from Saturn through Venus to locate Mercury near the horizon. Read more.

By the end of January or in early February, as darkness ebbs into dawn, you might even catch the two stars marking the Scorpion’s stinger coming up south of the sunrise point. These stars – Shaula and Lesath – rise about four minutes earlier each day. Even if you miss them tomorrow, you should be able to view the entire Scorpion just before dawn in a week or two.

So Orion is up in the evening now, and Scorpius is up before dawn. Next summer, when Orion is up before dawn, Scorpius will be out in the evening. Orion and Scorpius never appear in the sky at the same time.

Legend has it that Orion the Hunter was very vain. He boasted that no animal on Earth could kill him. But the Scorpion did sting Orion, and the Hunter died of its poison. Now, according to this ancient myth, the bitter hatred between these two constellations is so great that they can never been seen in the sky simultaneously.

We today have a different interpretation of the fact that Orion and Scorpion are never in the sky together. Scorpius is located in the direction toward the center of our Milky Way galaxy. Orion is located in the opposite direction. They’re never in the sky at once simply because they’re located in opposite directions in space, as seen from Earth.

Bottom line: Why Orion the Hunter and Scorpius the Scorpion don’t appear in the sky at the same time. Plus … see four visible planets in the morning sky.

A planisphere is virtually indispensable for beginning stargazers. Order your EarthSky Planisphere today!

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