Monday 30th January to Sunday 5th February 2023
If you stay up late past midnight, into the early hours of Monday morning 30th, there are several things to see looking towards the west. At 1am a 64%-lit Gibbous Moon will be about to set below the horizon and a little above it will be the Pleiades open cluster of stars.
Above and a little to the left of the Pleiades you will find planet Mars shining quite brightly at a magnitude of around -0.3 and to the left of Mars, the bright star Aldebaran in the constellation of Taurus. Further left again is the constellation of Orion with its red giant star Betelgeuse at the top and the much younger and hotter star Rigel towards the bottom.
Draw an imaginary line to the left of Orion's belt and you will come across the brightest star in the night sky - Sirius.
If late night observing isn't your thing and you prefer an early start, at daybreak on Monday 30th, planet Mercury will be at its greatest western elongation or in other words, it's furthest separation (about 25 degrees) from the rising Sun. If you go outside just before 7am, Mercury will be rising above the horizon towards the south east.
The planet will easily be visible to the naked eye, so please don't be tempted to use binoculars or a telescope to obtain a better view - the Sun will be appearing very shortly afterwards and you must never risk catching even a split-second glimpse of the Sun through any optical instrument.
Screenshots courtesy of Stellarium
Copyright Adrian Dening and Radio Ninesprings 2023