Perhaps surprisingly, New Year’s Day is not determined by any natural astronomical event. It is a manufactured day by our ancestors who were aware of the daylight hours extending each day from what we refer to as the Winter Solstice which occurs; this year; on Wednesday 21 st December some 10 days prior to the New Year.
New Years Day and the month of January derive from the ancient Roman god Janus who was the god of beginnings. Janus was depicted as having two
opposite faces. One face looking back into the past and the other looking forward towards the future. To celebrate the New Year the Romans made promises to Janus from which the tradition of New Year’s resolutions originate. It was the custom to exchange cheerful words of good wishes followed by the “rex sacrorum” a priesthood associated with the Roman Senate who offered a sacrifice of a ram to Janus.
Winter Solstice: Wednesday 21 st December 21.47 hours GMT.
Mercury: Unobservable throughout November. Can be observed from
mid-December and lies close to Venus towards the end of the year
looking towards the south west at sunset.
Venus: As with Mercury, Venus is unobservable during November but
emerges in the south west at sunset during December.
Mars: Observable during November quite bright as you look East from
around 20.00 hours working its way southwards so that by Christmas
Day easily observable high to the right of Orion at 22.00 hours.
Jupiter: Look high and southerly during November around 20.00 hours
Jupiter can be observed brilliantly bright. By Christmas Day Jupiter will
have journeyed more towards the south west.
Saturn: To the right of Jupiter throughout the months of November and
December but will be setting by 21.00 hours during November and
needs to be observed early evening during December before setting.
May I wish all our readers A Merry Healthy Festivities Season followed by
a Happy Healthy 2023.
Stay Safe – John Harris