January provides a great opportunity to observe the relative motion of the heavenly bodies across our sky. As Mars begins to lose its luster, Venus increases in brightness as it separates from the sun. Saturn’s shine has been steadily fading as it sinks further into the sun’s glare with each passing evening. January will be the last month to see the ringed planet for a while, as the sun sneaks up from behind. Venus, an inner planet, moves quickly, overtaking the slower-moving outer planet, Saturn, on Jan. 22. The sun, which moves approximately one zodiacal degree per day, catches up to and conjoins Saturn on Feb. 16. The moon is fastest of all, moving approximately 12 and a half zodiacal degrees each day. Thus, on Jan. 21 we cannot see the moon as it is conjunct the sun, but by the next evening it lies low on the western horizon in the early evening, barely visible in the glow of the sunset. On Jan. 23, the crescent moon has passed Venus and Saturn, with all three visible in close proximity. Only two days later, the moon has already reached Jupiter, whereas Venus has separated slightly from Saturn, the latter of which appears to have hardly moved.
There’s a renewed exuberance at the start of the new year, with Jupiter having freshly entered Aries, and the sign’s ruling planet, Mars, stationing direct on Jan. 12. After slogging through several months of Mars retrograde, we are finally able to move ahead, but we do well to remember that not all progress is linear. Mars remains in Gemini, whose ruling planet, Mercury, is retrograde through Jan. 18. It’s a season for trial and error, as Jupiter in Aries gives us the gumption to start new projects, but Mercury retrograde indicates that they will likely require re-tooling. Do not be dismayed if things do not go according to plan, as failures reveal opportunities for refinement. If we remain dedicated to the end goal, the finished product will emerge better than we had originally envisioned. When Uranus stations direct on Jan. 22, all planets will be in direct motion, and with it the welcomed sense of gaining momentum that will carry us through the winter.