Look Up! ... Orion Rules the Winter Night

Hello Night Sky Travelers,
January 20, 5:14am PST marked the beginning of a new lunar cycle that peaks with the February 3 Full Moon and ends February 18, 3:47pm PST.

In 2015, first of six supermoons comes on January 20

Lunar Theme: Clarifying Motive "Our January 20, 2015 New Moon occurs just as Mercury stations to begin its retrograde ... Our New Moon stars impel us to concretize our visions and ideals into demonstrable form. They impart a desire for independence and motivate independent pursuits, generally for personal gain, whether for material gain, for position or advantage in life, or for greater personal knowledge and understanding. They inspire intellectual curiosity, inquisitiveness and discovery of that which is hidden, but most of all, they impel us to examine and clarify our own personal motives that formulate our lives." Click the lunar theme link for more insights by Nick Fiorenza.

The folks at SouledOut.org invite you to celebrate the current lunar month by participating in the Aquarius Festival Global Meditation.

Jan. 21-23, Wednesday-Friday At dusk look west-southwest after sundown. A slim waxing Crescent Moon forms a triangle with dim, challenging to see Mercury and bright Venus Jan. 21. It is above Venus and to the right of dim Mars Jan. 22, and forms a diagonal line with Mars and Venus Jan. 23. Use binoculars for viewing Mercury and Mars. Dusk Map 1/21-23 These are the last best nights for Comet Lovejoy. Finder Chart + Photos

Orion Gives Birth ~ Rules the Winter Night
Jupiter at Its Best ~ Mercury Retrograde

Image: NASA / JPL–Caltech / STScI

Orion the Hunter gives birth to stars! This Spitzer/Hubble infrared and visible-light composite shows an artistic masterpiece of turbulent and chaotic energies that baby stars are creating 1,500 light years away in the Orion Nebula. Four monstrously massive stars, collectively known as the Trapezium located at the center of this cosmic cloud may be the main culprits of this gorgeous chaos. "These behemoths are approximately 100,000 times brighter than our sun." JPL

[This] image from NASA’s Spitzer and Hubble Space Telescopes looks more like an abstract painting than a cosmic snapshot. … It was "painted" by hundreds of baby stars on a canvas of gas and dust, with intense ultraviolet light and strong stellar winds as brushes. NASA's Full Caption / Description

The Orion Nebula is the nearest star formation region to the Earth and consequently particularly well studied. Despite this, star formation is not all that well understood. astro.nineplanets.org

More than half of the 25 brightest stars appear overhead in the winter sky making it the brightest night sky of all the seasons.

It is no coincidence that the brightest stars congregate here [the winter sky], for this is where many stellar nurseries reside, including the marvelous Orion Nebula (M42). Massive stars begin their lives in such cocoons and burn most brightly. Scan this region with binoculars to see one marvel after another. Astronomy Magazine 2/03

The Orion Nebula (M42) is easily visible as a fuzzy star with the unaided eye.

Everyone loves Orion's bright stars but it is one of his dimmer stars that will blow you away. Face southeast in the early evening and below Orion's three belt stars you'll see three dimmer stars which make up his sword. But no matter how sharp your eyesight the middle star always seems to look fuzzy, out of focus. [Image] That's because it isn't a star at all but a humongous cosmic cloud of gas and dust where new stars are being born. We call it the Orion Nebula and there is enough material here to produce over ten thousand stars the size of our Sun. Indeed, this nebula is so huge we could line up 20,000 of our solar systems end to end from one edge of it to the other. How's that for a fuzzy little star? Star Gazer

End of January + All of February, hour-glass shaped Orion lies high in the South from 7:00pm - 9:00pm. By 11:00pm this giant Hunter can be seen above the western horizon.

The three belt stars of Orion, which represent the Three Wise Men, point to Aldebaran our star of enlightenment and to Sirius our spiritual Sun. Helpful Map ~ Use brightest star Sirius to imagine sun’s path through Milky Way

Navigating with Orion

Orion's shoulder star is our Valentine's star!

Orion's shoulder star is a point of the equilateral Winter Triangle.

Orion's left leg is a point of the Great Winter Hexagon.

Orion's belt stars have nifty names.

Orion and His Rival

Jupiter at Its Best

Jupiter is at its best now. The planet is at its biggest, brightest and closest to Earth for 2015 when it is at opposition February 6. If you miss seeing Jupiter on this date, no worries! The human eye won't be able to detect a difference in the planet's brilliance for a week before or after the 6th.

Jupiter is pretty much out all night long during this lunar cycle, rising in the east near or at sunset, and setting in the west near or at sunrise. Look Up!

Feb. 2-4 Luna guides us to Jupiter. Maps/Text

Full moon plus Jupiter on February 3-4, 2015

Aquarius Festival Full Moon Global Meditation

Moon, Regulus partner up on the night of February 4-5

Earth passes between Jupiter and sun on February 6

Jupiter's 4 largest moons can be seen in a dark sky with binoculars.

It is said that Jupiter transmits cosmic forces into our solar system. Jupiter bridges, fuses and blends, freeing us from duality. This giant planet expands our hearts and minds bringing out the best in all, producing wisdom and the externalization of the Divine Plan in our solar system. Open to Jupiter's emanations! Imagine the light of Jupiter touching the hearts and minds of humanity

Note: Candlemass is the astronomical halfway point between Solstice and Equinox, a cross-quarter day. Generally it is celebrated on February 2. In 2015 it is exact on February 3 or 4 depending on your time zone.

Mercury Retrograde
Jan. 21- Feb. 11, 2015

Mercury began its retrograde motion Jan. 21. It is in inferior conjunction with our central luminary Jan. 30, and is stationary direct Feb. 11. As the planet joins with our Sun, it switches from the evening to the morning horizon.

During the planet's retrograde, which always occurs in close proximity to the Sun, Mercury the messenger of the gods seems to be communicating with our solar deity, formulating a new divine message for humanity.

A shift or change in direction is beginning to take place now.

... hold off on making important decisions and purchases, especially with Mercury Retrograde. ... We have three of these Retrograde periods every year. They ask us to go back and review, revise and rework our plans and thinking. Stop. Look. Listen. ... This is the time to make improvements and adjustments that will be valuable later on after Mercury turns back to direct motion on Mar 17. skywatchastrology.com

Surrender and maintain during the first half of Mercury's retrograde (before its inferior conjunction 1/30). At this time allow the new incoming cosmic energies to break up the old patterns. During the second half (after 1/30) pay attention to emerging new ideas.

It is also helpful to remember that whatever is not in alignment with the unfolding mysteries surfaces for processing and clearing. Mercury Retrograde is a notorious time when things glitch, communication breaks down and things don’t always turn out in the ways we desire or expect. However, if we can relax and release our attachments to outcome, then this timing carries innovative, magically creative energy, inspiring insights, understanding and wisdom. Mercury Retrograde by Cayelin K Castell

Mercury inspires the mind and connects us to the soul with divine tidings. Listen. What message does Mercury have for you?

Note: Retrograding Mercury is always too close to the Sun to be seen. Give a try Jan. 21-23 (see top of this page). Look again for the planet when it is furthest from the Sun February 24. It then reappears low on the eastern horizon 45 minutes before sunrise. Binoculars help one see Mercury in the twilight glow.

In Conclusion ...

Look Up! Ponder on and be receptive to all these breath-taking and extraordinary celestial winter energies. Trust in the unseen forces that stream forth from these heavenly bodies. They can expand your consciousness with new insights and visions.


Rise and Set Times
Rise/Set/Transit Times ~ Major Bodies
Use this link to find exact times for the
planets, Sun and Moon in your area.

The Planets
Three planets come out at nightfall on February evenings
Saturn/Antares January Before Dawn Map
Saturn/Antares/Moon 2/11-13 Before Dawn Map

Charting the Heavens
EarthSky Tonight ... nightly highlights/maps
This Week's Sky at a Glance ... weekly highlights/maps


This lunar cycle is calling us to Look Up! It has the potential to expand our consciousness with new insights and visions. Nick Fiorenza reminds us it is impelling "us to concretize our visions and ideals into demonstrable form." It is urging "us to examine and clarify our own personal motives that formulate our lives." It is inspiring us to discover what is hidden.

Each life is a lens of the future
focused by experience,
looking towards tomorrows,
shaped by yesterdays and the unfolding now.
The toolbox holds tender ideals and sharp analyses,
clouds of opaque unknowns cobbled together with cool discrimination
and intuitive vision.
All of this...
we dance with the unpredictable
in a race against modern time,
glimmers of brilliant awakenings,
each breath is a cosmic breath.
Each moment precious.

- Jacqueline Lasahn / New Moon

Here now, we align with our Spiritual Kingdom to receive the incoming Divine energies. We are preparing the way for an extraordinary happening ~ the World Saviour emerges again.

- Aquarius Festival Global Meditation

Join the folks at SouledOut.org for the 2015 Aquarius Festival Global Meditation.


Look Up! ... Look Within,
Susan Sun at The Night Sky