BACKYARD STARGAZER: 2022 bringing some new night sights
By Francis Parnell
Get ready to welcome 2022, everyone! Lots of neat celestial sights happening this new year, including a lunar eclipse in May. On the 1st at dusk, catch four planets lined up above the southwestern horizon. Dazzling Venus is lowest, Mercury above left, yellow Saturn next, and bright Jupiter upper left of Saturn. On the 4th at 1:55 a.m., Earth is at Perihelion, 91,406,842 miles, its closest approach to the Sun all year. At dusk on the 4th, Saturn is 5 degrees upper right of the waxing crescent Moon. At dusk on the 5th, Jupiter is 5 degrees above the lunar crescent. Looking southwest about an hour after sunset on the 7th, Mercury is at Greatest Elongation, 19 degrees east of the Sun. Spot elusive Mercury about 8 degrees lower right of Saturn. 45 minutes after sunset on the 12th, Mercury is now only 3 degrees lower right of Saturn. At dusk on the 18th, watch the full Wolf Moon rising; it’s the smallest in 2022. Wrapping up the month, let’s head outside 30 minutes before sunrise on the 29th to find brilliant Venus in the southeast sky with dim red Mars about 10 degrees right with the very slim waning crescent Moon 3 degrees lower right of Mars. Be sure to catch Earthshine on the Moon! FAST FACT: The star-filled dark night sky is mankind’s oldest cultural heritage, and has inspired countless stories, poems, and songs for thousands of years. But light pollution has destroyed our view of the stars and has worsened with blue-rich white-light LED’s. Physics shows how much worse. Comparing the older High Pressure Sodium (HPS) Amber lighting to the 4,000K blue-rich white LEDs shows the LEDs brighten the sky 2.7 times more than HPS! Nocturnal creatures, including millions of migrating birds, have a tough time surviving now; not good for our health either. Are blue-rich white-light LEDs “progress” in outdoor lighting at night? NO! Even though the sky is brighter now because of the white light LEDs, “Keep looking up!” Then demand eye and environmentally friendly lighting.