The Astronomical Events of January 2024

Want to start the New Year with some stargazing? Discover the astronomical highlights that await you in January 2024.

The new year brings with it clear winter skies and plenty of stellar sights for stargazers. January is a fantastic month to observe the cosmos, as longer nights provide more opportunity to spot celestial wonders overhead. The cold temperatures means that the atmosphere is a little more steady which improves visibility and provides better conditions for astronomical observations.

No matter your observing experience or equipment, January 2024 provides many remarkable astronomy events to kick off the new year. So bundle up, grab your binoculars or telescope, and enjoy the celestial wonders overhead this January with our celestial event calendar below!

Please note this skywatching guide is for the northern hemisphere. If you live in the south, I recommend this guide: Guide to the Night Sky Southern Hemisphere (aff link)

Astronomical Highlights

January 04 at 23:20 CST: Quadrantid meteor shower peak

The annual Quadrantid meteor shower reached its peak after being active for about three weeks. The peak will most likely only last for a few hours so make sure to be prepared.

January 08 at 08:24 CST: Antares 0.8°S of Moon

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.

January 10 at 02:31 CST: Mars 4.2°N of Moon

Mars, the Red Planet, will be a sight to behold as it makes its approach to the Moon. A good opportunity to capture some stunning images if you’re into astrophotography.

January 11 at 05:57 CST: NEW MOON

With the Moon not visible in the sky, it’s the perfect time to observe faint celestial bodies. Without moonlight, the sky is at its darkest.

January 12 at 08:00 CST: Mercury at Greatest Elong: 23.5°W

Mercury reaches its greatest elongation, meaning it will be at its furthest apparent distance from the Sun, making it an optimal time for observation.

January 13 at 04:35 CST: Moon at Perigee: 362264 km

The Moon is at its closest approach to Earth, known as perigee. This makes it appear larger and brighter in our night sky.

January 14 at 03:31 CST: Saturn 2.1°N of Moon

Saturn will be making a close approach to the Moon, and they will appear to be close together in the sky. A good chance for astrophotographers to get shots of both celestial bodies in the same frame.

January 17 at 08:05 CST: Moon at Ascending Node

The Moon crosses the ecliptic going north, a good opportunity to understand the Moon’s motion relative to Earth.

January 17 at 21:53 CST: FIRST QUARTER MOON

The Moon is now half illuminated and you’ll be able to see some nice detail along the terminator – the line dividing the day and night sides of the Moon.

January 18 at 14:40 CST Jupiter: 2.8°S of 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.

January 20 at 07:25 CST: Pleiades 0.9°N of Moon

The Moon makes a close pass to the Pleiades, an open star cluster also known as the Seven Sisters. With binoculars or a small telescope, you should be able to see the cluster next to the Moon.

January 24 at 13:00 CST: Pollux 1.7°N of Moon

The star Pollux in the constellation Gemini will be close to the Moon, another great event for photography.

January 25 at 11:54 CST: FULL MOON

Full Moon phase, the moon is fully illuminated as seen from Earth. This might wash out some fainter stars, but the Moon itself is a great target for observation.

January 27 at 10:00 CST: Mercury 0.2°N of Mars

Mercury and Mars will be in planetary conjunction, meaning they appear very close together in the sky. A rare event that’s worth checking out.

January 27 at 10:18 CST: Regulus 3.6°S of Moon

The Moon will be close to Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation Leo.

January 29 at 02:14 CST: Moon at Apogee – 405781 km

Once again, the Moon is at its farthest from Earth, offering a slightly dimmer and smaller appearance.

January 31 at 14:17 CST: Moon at Descending Node

The Moon crosses the ecliptic going south, closing out a month of remarkable celestial events.

Note: Some astronomical events in this list were sourced from Sky Event Almanacs – Courtesy of Fred Espenak at

January Moon Phases

Here’s the chronology of the major lunar phases for the month:

Additionally, you may use my moon calculator to find out the phase for any day. 

My recommended surface feature to observe this January

  1. Craters: The Moon’s surface is covered in craters, remnants of ancient meteor impacts. The most notable one is Tycho, easily recognizable by its bright ray system.

  2. Maria: These are the large, dark, basaltic plains on the Moon, formed by ancient volcanic eruptions. The most famous one is the Sea of Tranquility (Mare Tranquillitatis), the landing site of Apollo 11.

  3. Mountain Ranges: Lunar mountains, such as the Apennine Mountains, provide a rugged contrast to the maria. They can be quite a sight, especially when the light casts long shadows over them during the First and Last Quarter phases.

Planetary Highlights

Both Mercury and Venus are morning objects rising shortly before the Sun does

Mars is unfortunately lost in the sun’s glare most of the month and is therefore not observable.

Jupiter is the centrepiece this month, dominating the evening night sky, shining from -2.45 mag at the beginning of the month and getting slightly more brighter as the days go by. It’ll end up shining at -2.23 of apparent magnitude.

Saturn is the second planet of interest this month, shining at a steady 0.98 mag. It sets much earlier than Jupiter with an observing window of about 3 to 4 hours on average in January.

Uranus hangs nearby Jupiter, in between the Aries and Taurus constellations.

Neptune cruise the sky this month located right in between the Pisces and Aquarius constellation. 

Constellations best seen in January

Among the 88 modern constellations in our night sky, here are the eight that are most clearly visible this month.

Caelum (Cae)

  • Hemisphere: Northern
  • Size: 797 square degrees of the sky.
  • Visible between latitudes: 90 and -65 degrees
  • RA/DEC: 
  • Asterism: 11 stars
  • Constellation Family: Zodiac
Caleum constellation

Dorado (Dor)

  • Hemisphere: Northern
  • Size: 797 square degrees of the sky.
  • Visible between latitudes: 90 and -65 degrees
  • RA/DEC: 
  • Asterism: 11 stars
  • Constellation Family: Zodiac
Dorado constellation

Lepus (Lep)

  • Hemisphere: Northern
  • Size: 797 square degrees of the sky.
  • Visible between latitudes: 90 and -65 degrees
  • RA/DEC: 
  • Asterism: 11 stars
  • Constellation Family: Zodiac
Lepus constellation

Mensa (Men)

  • Hemisphere: Northern
  • Size: 797 square degrees of the sky.
  • Visible between latitudes: 90 and -65 degrees
  • RA/DEC: 
  • Asterism: 11 stars
  • Constellation Family: Zodiac
Mensa constellation

Orion (Ori)

  • Hemisphere: Northern
  • Size: 797 square degrees of the sky.
  • Visible between latitudes: 90 and -65 degrees
  • RA/DEC: 
  • Asterism: 11 stars
  • Constellation Family: Zodiac
orion constellation

Pictor (Pic)

  • Hemisphere: Northern
  • Size: 797 square degrees of the sky.
  • Visible between latitudes: 90 and -65 degrees
  • RA/DEC: 
  • Asterism: 11 stars
  • Constellation Family: Zodiac
pictor constellation

Reticulum (Ret)

  • Hemisphere: Northern
  • Size: 797 square degrees of the sky.
  • Visible between latitudes: 90 and -65 degrees
  • RA/DEC: 
  • Asterism: 11 stars
  • Constellation Family: Zodiac
reticulum constellation

Taurus (Tau)

  • Hemisphere: Northern
  • Size: 797 square degrees of the sky.
  • Visible between latitudes: 90 and -65 degrees
  • RA/DEC: 
  • Asterism: 11 stars
  • Constellation Family: Zodiac
taurus constellation

Deep Sky Objects best seen in January

Most deep-sky objects will require you to use equipment such as telescopes or astronomical binoculars. Most notable DSOs have been recorded during the last centuries in various catalogs such as the Messier catalog.

Various celestial entities like galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters make up deep-sky objects. Here are three such objects that offer an optimal viewing experience in January.

The Orion Nebula (M42)

The Orion Nebula is one of the most famous and easily viewed objects in the night sky. It’s located in the constellation Orion, about 1,344 light-years from Earth.

  • Apparent magnitude: 4
  • Angular diameter: 85×60 arc-minutes
  • RA/DEC: 5h 35.4m / -05° 27´
  • Constellation: Orion

The Rosette Nebula (Caldwell 49)

This is an emission nebula located in the constellation Monoceros, at a distance of approximately 5,200 light-years from Earth. Its name comes from the rose-like shape and structure, with complex structures and ‘petals’ of gas and dust.

  • Apparent magnitude: 4.8
  • Angular diameter: 80′ × 60′
  • RA/DEC: 6h 33m Dec +04° 59′ 
  • Constellation: Monoceros

The Pleiades (M45)

The Pleiades, also known as the “Seven Sisters”, is an open star cluster located in the constellation of Taurus. It is relatively close to Earth in astronomical terms, at a distance of about 444 light-years. The cluster contains hundreds of stars, but it’s most recognizable for its seven brightest stars, which are visible to the naked eye and have been known since antiquity.

  • Apparent magnitude: 1.6
  • Angular diameter: 10 arc-minutes
  • RA/DEC: 03h 47m 24s / +24° 07′ 00″
  • Constellation: Taurus

Comets best seen in January

Here’s a list of notable comets you should be able to spot this month:


  • Constellation: Taurus
  • Magnitude: 10.45
  • Distance: 0.63 AU
  • RA/Dec: 03h 34m 3s / +14° 48′ 46″
  • Visibility: Visible until about 3/4 am

12P/Pons- Brooks

  • Constellation: Cygnus
  • Magnitude: 10.39
  • Distance: 2.08 AU
  • RA/Dec: 20h 26m 49s / +38° 05′ 27″
  • Visibility: All night

62P/Tsuchinshan 1

  • Constellation: Virgo
  • Magnitude: 9.30
  • Distance: 0.50 AU
  • RA/Dec: 12h 11m 59s / +11° o2′ 46.2″
  • Visibility: Midnight until morning

103P/Hartley 2

  • Constellation: Puppis
  • Magnitude: 12.15
  • Distance: 0.74 AU
  • RA/Dec: 08h 28m 58s / -13° 21′ 28″
  • Visibility: from approx 20:00 pm until 06:00 am

C/2021 S3 (PanSTARRS)

  • Constellation: Lupus
  • Magnitude: 11.06
  • Distance: 1.69 AU
  • RA/Dec:15h 50m 38s / -33° 10′ 22″
  • Visibility: early morning

Featured star of the month: Sirius

Every month, we’ll spotlight one of the brightest stars in the night sky. These celestial spotlights won’t require any specialized equipment – all you’ll need are your eyes, clear skies, and a bit of curiosity.

Sirius (Alpha Canis Majoris)

  • Constellation: Canis Major
  • Apparent Magnitude: -1.46 
  • Absolute Magnitude: +1.4
  • Distance: 8.611 light-years
  • Celestial Coordinates: RA 6h 45m 9s | Dec -16° 42′ 58″

How to find this star: It is the brightest star in the entire sky, so it should be easy to spot. You can also locate the Orion constellation first and draw a line diagonally toward the left through Orion’s belt, which will lead you straight to Sirius.

Almost 9 light-years away from us, Sirius is the brightest star in our night sky, which is why its name, which means “sparkling” in Greek, is very apt as well. If you have a small telescope you will discover that Sirius is in fact a binary star system made of a main-sequence star, Sirius A, and a faint white dwarf named Sirius B. 

Fun fact: Sirius is 24 times more luminous than our Sun!

Sirius is located in Canis Major

Sirius is a binary star located in Canis Major. Image Source: Stellarium

Spotting the ISS in the night sky

The station completes one full orbit around the Earth in 90 minutes (16 times in 24 hours), which means you could potentially see the station several times within a few hours period, provided you are on the night side of the planet and know where to look.

This nifty little widget created by NASA allows you to input the city you live in. It will then calculate and display the next ISS fly over time. You can find out how long the station will be visible and its position when it appears and disappears from the sky.

The International Space Station is fairly easy to locate in the sky. It is brighter than any other satellite in the sky and can sometimes reach an apparent magnitude similar to that of planet Venus. You can also sign up to receive alerts (via email or text) on this page.

Solar / Lunar eclipses

There are no eclipses of any kind happening this month. Check out our eclipse calendar for this year.

Meteor Shower of the month: The Quadrantid

This annual meteor shower is known for its short peak period of high intensity, where up to 60-200 meteors per hour can be seen under ideal conditions. The Quadrantids are thought to peak over the course of just a few hours, compared to other meteor showers that may have a peak period of a day or two.

The source of the Quadrantid meteor shower is believed to be an asteroid named 2003 EH1, which is thought to be a piece of a comet that broke apart several centuries ago. The Quadrantids are best viewed from the Northern Hemisphere due to the radiant’s location.

The name “Quadrantids” comes from the constellation Quadrans Muralis, which is no longer recognized by the International Astronomical Union but was located near the current constellations of Bootes and Draco.

Opt for a viewing location that’s rural and dark, with a low Bortle scale rating, to ensure maximum visibility, free from the light pollution of urban areas. Be sure to dress warmly, as temperatures can drop significantly during nighttime hours. Bring along a comfortable chair or blanket to lie on, and give yourself plenty of time – at least 20 to 30 minutes – for your eyes to adjust to the darkness.

General Stargazing Tips

  • Plan ahead: Choose a few specific objects you’d like to observe and research where to find them in the night sky. Download a stargazing app or print out star maps to use as a reference.
  • Wait for darkness: Stargazing is best done when it’s completely dark outside, so aim for a time at least an hour after sunset. This will allow you to see more of the stars and planets in the sky.
  • Find a good spot: Look for an area with little light pollution and a clear view of the horizon. Avoid areas with tall buildings or trees that could obstruct your view.
  • Make sure to know the rules for public areas as you may need a permit, to purchase a campsite, etc. Think about who is coming and what you may need/ want such as bathroom access, electricity, distance from the car, etc.
  • Be sure to check the moon phase for that day before you go: A bright full moon can wash out fainter stars and planets and make your night of stargazing difficult.
  • Always plan backup dates: We cannot control or completely predict the weather. It’s one of the frustrating realities of stargazing: cancellations due to weather are common.
  • Set up your equipment: If you’re using a telescope, set it up and let it adjust to the outside temperature for at least 30 minutes.
  • Make sure your tripod is as steady as possible. Even the slightest wobble can cause stars to appear blurred.
  • Bring eyepieces of various focal lengths: Different objects in the night sky are best viewed at different magnifications, so bring a variety of eyepieces for your telescope.
  • Dress warmly: Stargazing can be a cold activity, especially in the winter, so be sure to dress in layers and bring a blanket or warm coat to keep yourself comfortable.
  • Most importantly, enjoy! Let your eyes soak in the beauty of our night sky!

Safety tips when stargazing in nature

I have been stargazing for more than a decade and I understand that the night sky can be inviting and mysterious, but please take safety precautions when spending long hours in the dark. I have enjoyed stargazing sessions from my own backyard as well as remote and dark places.

Therefore, I have a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Bring a buddy/group: Even if you’re an experienced stargazer, it’s never a bad idea to bring someone with you. It can help make the night more enjoyable and also provide safety in case something unexpected happens.
  • Dress appropriately: Wear comfortable clothing that will keep you warm in lower temperatures (especially during winter months) but also be aware of bugs or other critters that can be attracted to light sources.
  • Let someone know where you’ll be going: Give a family member, friend or roommate a general idea of where you’re going and when you’ll be back. What I usually do is share my live GPS location with my family so they know where I am and when I’m on the way home.
  • Have the necessary supplies: Bring plenty of water, snacks and torchlights to create a comfortable environment for stargazing. Also, make sure to bring a first-aid kit in case of any emergencies.
  • Be aware of your surroundings: make sure to stay away from any potential dangers such as cliffs, water bodies or cacti.
  • Stay on established trails or roads: Avoid wandering off into the wilderness and bring a whistle and flashing lights so you can be found if you get lost.
  • Being out in the dark can be disorienting, whilst also being a time when nocturnal animals become active. Make sure you know where you are and have an escape plan should something go wrong.
  • Lastly, remember that you are in nature so always leave the place better than how you found it. With proper preparation and safety tips in mind, stargazers of any skill level can enjoy a star-filled night under the NH sky. Happy Stargazing!

Be sure to check out my guide, if you want to know more about safe stargazing practices.

Useful Stargazing applications

The night sky can be a tricky thing to navigate, but luckily there are some amazing astronomy applications for smartphones that make the process a lot simpler. Some go-to free applications for iOS and Android users include:

Stellarium is a powerful, free app with a live interactive 3D view of the night sky. Simply hold your phone in front of you and the real-time sky above you will appear on your screen. It can also be used to quickly locate stars, constellations and galaxies with a tap of the finger.

Download here: Android – iOS

Clear Outside is designed to help you plan your stargazing sessions. It features a clear sky chart that tells you the local weather conditions and times when it is expected to be the clearest at night.

Download here: Android – iOS

My other Stargazing monthly guides for this year

I have curated an astronomical event guide for each month of the year (work in progress); I highly recommend that you explore them.

Tom Urbain
I’ve been fascinated by space and astronomy from a very young age. When I’m not watching space-themed documentaries, movies or TV series, I spend most of my free time in my backyard admiring the planets and galaxies with my telescope.
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