Comet Lovejoy, full moon Cancer, Sirius and Rigel: January surprise
Sunday 8pm PDT / 11pm EDT moon reaches Sirius. That is also the hour of the full moon. The moon rises as the sun sets and is visible all night.
On its way the moon will be conjunct Rigel at sunset EDT on January 2nd, conjunct Mintaka in Orion’s Belt at 3am PDT tonight/early morning of January 3rd, and conjunct Betelgeuse at sunset EDT on January 3rd.
Meanwhile Comet Lovejoy’s path takes it on a path the planets don’t travel that crosses the ecliptic but passes through a region of the stars that held great importance in ancient times.
After passing near Sirius on New Year’s Eve, Lovejoy will pass near Rigel on January 5th when the moon is on the point on the ecliptic closest to Sirius. So if we look at Rigel and Sirius as stations in the sky it’s as if the full moon and Lovejoy are switching places between them in the nights of Dec. 31st through January 5th.
Chart for January: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/wp-content/uploads/Lovejoy2_BW.pdf
Chart for December (includes Sirius): http://www.skyandtelescope.com/wp-content/uploads/Lovejoy1_BW.pdf
On January 19th, there will be a new moon and Lovejoy will pass by the Pleiades before crossing the ecliptic and heading towards Andromeda. The new crescent moon will make an appearance in the Ram in late January close to when the comet passes by that constellation.