6 Incredible Celestial Events To See In January 2024

From meteor showers to a close pass by Jupiter, the month has a series of offerings for astronomy enthusiasts
People observing stars in night sky
People observing stars in night skyvcha/Shutterstock

January looks promising and fun-filled for all stargazers. Look up because the night skies are going to be buzzing with activity. However, looking up to see a sky full of stars is a much-coveted luxury in the dust-laden metro cities that most of us find ourselves in. In order to witness these events, it is best to get away to places with less light pollution and stare at the endless web of stars glistening above you. So, grab your telescope, head out to the best stargazing points and marvel at the wonders of the universe.

January 3-4 - Quadrantids Meteor Shower

The annual Quadrantids will be 2024's first meteor showers. Also known as the 'Quads', they are a debris trail of the asteroid 2003 EH1 that was discovered twenty years ago. January 3-4 is the finest night for the 2024 Quadrantids (the estimated peak is 12:53 UTC on January 4). This is mostly a northern shower, not suitable for the Southern Hemisphere. After midnight, viewing will be best from a dark location. Meteors are more likely to appear in the constellation Bootes, but they can appear anywhere in the sky. They will be spread over two days and will peak over a couple of hours, between January 3 and 4. When the radiant is high in the sky and there is no moon, the Quadrantids can (briefly) emit over 100 meteors per hour.

January 8 - Antares And The Moon

On January 8, at 08:24 CST, the star Antares, known for its reddish hue, will have a close encounter with the Moon. They will appear close together in the sky, which makes for a great visual spectacle. Antares is the sixteenth brightest star in the midnight sky and a red supergiant star in the Milky Way galaxy.

January 12 - Mercury At Greatest Western Elongation

On January 12, Mercury has a maximum western elongation of 23.5 degrees from the Sun. Mercury will be at its maximum point above the horizon in the morning sky, making this the best time to observe it. Just before sunrise, look for the planet low in the eastern sky.

January 13 - Moon At Perigee

On this day, at 04:35 CST, the Moon is at its closest approach to Earth, known as perigee. This makes it appear larger and brighter in our night sky. You can take some incredible photographs if you prepare well in advance. The point on the Moon's orbit closest to Earth is called the perigee and the point farthest away is the apogee.

Get your telescope ready for incredible celestial events
Get your telescope ready for incredible celestial eventsAstroStar/Shutterstock

January 18 - Jupiter And The Moon

Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system, makes a close pass by the Moon, offering a great opportunity to observe and photograph the two together, at 14:40 CST.

January 20 - Pleiades And The Moon

The Moon makes a close pass to the Pleiades, an open star cluster also known as the Seven Sisters at 07:25 CST. With binoculars or a small telescope, you should be able to see the cluster next to the Moon. The Pleiades are an asterism, or star pattern, as well as an open star cluster with around 1,000 stars. They are around 410 light-years away from Earth and are located in the constellation Taurus.

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