January 2021

Bright Sky Digest 

Monthly SAS Newsletter

New Year, New Digest

Welcome to 2021! We are excited to bring you are newly reworked Bright Sky Digest. This month we are highlighting our newly nominated board members including a spotlight on our newest President, as well as upcoming events including Dr. Katie Stack Morgan speaking about seeking signs of ancient life with the Mars perseverance Rover. Additionally, our very own Bob Mulford discusses the amazing opportunities to view Mercury in the Pacific Northwest.

Meet the Board

VP Activities
VP Education
VP Membership
VP Publicity
Outreach Coordinator
Equipment Manager
Aaron Yoon
Soni Rao
David W. Ingram
Stan Dyck
Alison Alexsy
Mary Anderson
David Hoover
Wendy Froggatt
Bob Mulford
DuWayne Andrews Jr.
Rayna C.T. Bauer
Ward W. Vuillemot
Sierra Wollen

Upcoming Events

Tuesday, January 12th,
7:00 PM -9:00 PM:
Astrophotography Special Interest Group Meeting 

Wednesday, January 20th,
6:30 PM-8:00 PM:
 Dr. Katie Stack Morgan Presents "Seeking Signs of Ancient Life in Jezero Crater with the Mars Perseverance Rover"

Thursday, January 28th,
6:30 PM-8:00 PM:
New Member & Volunteering Info Session
2021 SAS Annual Banquet

Stargazing in Seattle

Bob Mulford

January brings an excellent opportunity to view Mercury. At the beginning of the Month, Mercury sets less than 30 minutes after Sunset, and will be lost in the Sun’s glare. Mercury sets a few minutes later and appears a bit higher in the sky each day. Under a clear sky and with a clear horizon toward the southwest, Mercury should be visible at dusk as a brilliant evening star between about January 17th through the end of the month. It should be easy to recognize since there are no other bright stars in this area of the sky. The best time to view this elusive planet is near the end of the month when it is highest in the sky at dusk. Between the 21st and the 28th, Mercury will be about nine degrees above the west-southwest horizon at the beginning of Civil Twilight (about 5:30 PM). This is about the same height as a clenched fist held out at arm’s length, so a clear horizon toward the southwest is essential. 

Mercury in the West-Southwest as seen near Seattle at Dusk in Late January
(Graphic created with Stellarium)

Winter officially began on December 21st, the date of the winter solstice. This date marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year for the Northern Hemisphere. The word solstice means “standing still” and refers to the fact that daily sunrise and sunset occur at approximately the same time for several weeks around the time of a solstice. Unfortunately, this means that our current dark mornings and early sunsets are not going to change very much until late January. Evenings in the first week of January only have a few minutes more daylight than in December, and mornings are still dark. In fact, sunrise on January 1st occurs two minutes later than it did on day of the Solstice. Seattle must wait until after January 6th to begin to get more daylight in both the morning and the evening. Deborah Byrd of Earth and Sky has a good explanation of this and other aspects of the winter solstice at

The amount of daylight may be standing still around the solstice, but of course the Earth is still revolving around the sun. Jupiter and Saturn, which formed a beautiful Christmas star during evening twilight just a few weeks ago, are setting a bit earlier each day and are getting lower in the sky at dusk. On January 1st, the two giant planets are less than ten degrees above the horizon at the beginning of civil twilight and are getting more difficult to spot. By mid-January, these giant planets set around sunset and are lost from our view until March, when they become visible in the early morning sky.

Member Spotlight

Aaron Yoon, SAS President
Name: Aaron Yoon
Member Since: 2016
Location: Capitol Hill, Seattle
Hobbies: Mountaineering, bicycling, backpacking, local live music/performing arts, visual astronomy/planetary imaging, I adore animals  
Favorite Catalog Item: M81, Bode's Galaxy, is a new favorite deep sky target as it's a great beginners galaxy in a telescope that is accessible year-round, bright, and can be enjoyed both by imaging and visually. 
Favorite Space Movie, Show, or Character: Interstellar (The Hans Zimmer score is amazing) & Cosmos:A Personal Voyage (Carl Sagan was underrated as an actor)
Favorite Space Fact: It's crazy to think Saturn's rings are 175,000 miles wide but only average 30 feet in depth
Favorite Space Related Memory: Crying from the beauty of The Great American Total Solar Eclipse, the green glow of Comet Neowise appearing over a ledge during a mountaineering trip
Hopes & Goals: I'm really looking forward to engaging new and returning SAS members this year while helping to build community. We'll stay connected virtually to start, but will eventually come together again with new energy! Also, I'm excited to try for an image of Jupiter's Great Red Spot with transiting moons and shadows.
Want to nominate someone for the next member spotlight?
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