Tonight – January 22, 2016 – the moon might look full to you, but it’s not, yet. Full moon comes when the moon is most opposite the sun. That’ll be during the evening hours on January 23, 2016, for us in North America (January 24 for Europe, Africa and Asia). Meanwhile, the January 22 moon is a waxing gibbous moon. It’s near the bright stars Castor and Pollux in the constellation Gemini the Twins.
When the moon turns full on the night of January 23-24, it’ll still be in the vicinity of the Gemini stars, Castor and Pollux.
Although we draw in the stick figure of the Gemini Twins on the chart at the top of this post, you might not see much of Gemini in the moonlight glare except for Castor and Pollux.
The rest of the constellation Gemini the Twins appears as two streams of stars extending from Castor and Pollux. These stars are faint. Near the month’s end – after the moon drops out of the evening sky – go to a rural location to look for the Twins to shine in all their starlit majesty.
By the way, that brilliant star on the other side of the January 22 moon is Procyon, sometimes called the Little Dog Star.
You might not know that Procyon – and Castor and Pollux – offer an alternate way of finding Polaris, the North Star. You can draw an imaginary line from Procyon and then in between the two Gemini stars, and then take a long jump northward to locate Polaris, the North Star.
These bright Gemini stars outline the northeastern part of the Winter Circle.
Bottom line: On the night of January 22, 2016, let the full-looking waxing gibbous moon guide your eye to the bright Gemini stars, Castor and Pollux!