On Thursday, January 11, be sure to wake up early and check out the southwest sky at around 5:30 a.m. for a fantastic view of an isosceles triangle formed by a small waning crescent Moon, brilliant Jupiter (magnitude -1.9), and orange-yellow Mars.
Why January Is The Month of Mars
Mars now appears respectively bright at magnitude +1.4. By the end of the month it brightens to +1.2, because the Earth edges 25,563,000 miles closer to it during January. Put another way, each day this month we are getting closer to the red planet by an average of about 824,600 miles.
Through a small telescope however, the red planet is still a tiny featureless blob; you would need a 14-inch telescope magnifying at 360-power to make Mars appear as large as the full moon does to the unaided eye.
When To View Jupiter
The best time this month to observe Jupiter with a telescope is in morning twilight when the atmospheric seeing is often excellent, but even then it is not very high in the southeast for observers at mid-northern latitudes.