January 2014 Night Photography Events Calendar

Each month I post a monthly night photography events calendar on the first day of the month. Events listed on the calendar are suitable for wide-field and moderate-telephoto astrophotography, as well as for general night photography. Unless otherwise stated, all events occur in the United States at mid-latitudes. Most of the events also occur at other locations, although some of them may require correction for latitude and longitude. The position of the Moon relative to the planets and stars changes throughout the night. Generally, when a position is given, it is for the period about 45 minutes after sunset or 45 minutes before sunrise. Do not confuse the time for the Full Moon phase for the time of Moonrise and Moonset. Consult local charts for rise and set times.

If you sign up for my free Night Photography News eNewsletter, you’ll receive each calendar two weeks early, on the 15th of the preceeding month. This will give you more time to plan your night shooting.

January is a good month for photographing skylines and some types of cityscapes. It’s cold and it gets dark early, so more people will be inside with the lights on early in the evening. Distant city views usually have less smog than in summer months. Street scenes can work well, since there are fewer people on the sidewalks who might interfere with the composition.

The long nights of January are perfect for shooting night-sky scenes. At mid-latitudes, you have more than 10 hours of total darkness all month long. Digital camera sensors create far less noise in cold temperatures than they do when it’s warm, so January’s weather is an asset in that regard.

Winter trees make good night subjects, either as the main component of the composition or as a foreground to a night-sky scene. The lack of foliage makes it less of a problem for shooting on windy nights and the graphic lines of the bare trunks and limbs work beautifully for light painting.

The best time to shoot landscapes illuminated by the light of the Moon is when there is snow on the ground. The snow reflects much of the light and helps evenly illuminate the scene. It’s even better if you can catch it with the snow clinging to the trees.

Winter is an ideal time to photograph abandoned commercial sites and any type of decaying structure. You’re not likely to encounter any snakes or bees and the lack of foliage reveals sights that are hidden in summer. If you’re one of those who likes to sneak into places, you’re less likely to get caught in the middle of a January night than any other time. Of course, I would NEVER sneak to get a photo, but I thought I’d mention it for those of you who do.

All month Jupiter shines brightly all night long. At dusk, look for it low on the horizon to the East and at dawn look for it a bit above the horizon to the Southwest. It will make a nice complement to dusk and dawn landscape scenes, as well as a bright complement to night-sky scenes. It is the brightest object in the night sky besides the Moon and Venus.
All month Orion, the night sky’s brightest and most prominent constellation, rises around sunset in early January and a couple hours before sunset toward the end of the month. During January, Orion is visible nearly all night long and makes a great complement to a wide-angle night-sky image, as well as being a terrific principal subject.
First week Venus is the brilliant “Evening Star”, shining low in the dusk sky to the Southwest. It makes a great complement to a twilight landscape scene.
Second half Venus is the brilliant “Morning Star”, shining low in the dawn sky to the Southeast. It makes a great complement to a twilight landscape scene.
Second half Mercury is low on the horizon in the dusk sky, looking West. It shines at about magnitude -0.6.
1 The New Year starts off with a New Moon occurring at 6:14am. Don’t forget, the best time to shoot the stars (either as pinpoints or star trails) is when there is no light pollution from the Moon.
2 A very thin Crescent Moon shines low on the horizon in the dusk twilight sky, looking West-Southwest. Venus lies below the Moon.
2 – 3 The Quadrantid Meteor Shower peaks. Observed meteors in this shower can rival the Perseids and the Geminids (up to 120 per hour), but only in the brief few hours during peak. Unfortunately, for observers in the Eastern U.S., the peak occurs in the afternoon of the 3rd. However, you should still see some meteors during the previous night, and even some beginning before midnight. The radiant point of the Quadrantids is near the Big Dipper, but you can see them anywhere in the sky. Fortunately, the sky will be moonless.
3 The thin Crescent Moon shines in the dusk twilight sky, looking West-Southwest. Venus lies to the lower right.
4 The thin Crescent Moon shines in the dusk twilight sky, looking West-Southwest. Venus lies to the lower right.
7 First Quarter Moon at 10:40pm.
14 The nearly full Moon shines very close to the right of Jupiter in the East sky about an hour after sunset.
15 Full Moon at 11:53pm. Don’t forget, in addition to including the Full Moon as a complement to a landscape or urban scene, you can use the light from the Full (or nearly full) Moon to illuminate your scene.
24 Third Quarter Moon at 12:19am.
25 Saturn and the fat Crescent Moon lie very close together, high in the dawn sky, looking East-Southeast.
26 The Crescent Moon shines in the dawn sky, looking East-Southeast. Venus shines to the lower left of the Moon.
27 The thin Crescent Moon shines in the dawn sky, looking East-Southeast. Venus shines to the left of the Moon.
28 A very thin Crescent Moon shines low in the dawn sky, looking East-Southeast. Venus shines to the left of the Moon.
29 A sliver-thin Crescent Moon shines low in the dawn sky, looking East-Southeast. Venus shines to the upper right of the Moon.
30 The second New Moon of the month occurs at 4:39pm. Don’t forget, the best time to shoot the stars (either as pinpoints or star trails) is when there is no light pollution from the Moon.
31 A sliver-thin Crescent Moon shines very low on the horizon at dusk, looking West. Mercury is very close to the upper left. The Moon is only 1.3% illuminated and will be difficult to spot.
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