Star gazing in your back yard

By Pat Beers Block

Welcome to this month’s highlights of enjoyable events that will happen in the evening and morning skies above!

Sky gazing is a fun way to engage in the world around us, helping us to appreciate all of the exciting events that happen in the evening and morning sky. Events like meteor showers, solar and lunar eclipses, and unique planetary formations happen just about every month.  In this article, you will find information about those formations as they are anticipated to occur in the month ahead so that you can plan your evenings and mornings to view celestial events! 

Before we get into the specific events that one can expect to see in the month of January 2024, it is helpful to consider how we will find and view celestial bodies in the vast regions of our night sky.

Enjoying events in our evening and morning sky by observing and identifying celestial events can easily be done both with, and without, sky viewing equipment.   Telescopes and sky binocular are premier devices for sky viewing.  These devices rely on one’s knowledge of celestial body orientations and locations in the regional sky.  

But we might not feel confident in our knowledge of sky objects, and seeing something in the sky with these devices tend to make sky viewing confusing and disorienting.  Well, thankfully, we now have helpful sophisticated sky viewing applications that can be downloaded to your cell phone with relative ease.  These applications not only identify the celestial bodies we are observing in the sky, but they also provide orientation information about these bodies’ relative to our land-based location.  

Two popular applications are readily available, free of cost, for the Apple cell phone, and Android cell phones.  The Apple cell phone application is called Sky Guide; For those of you who have an Android cell phone, the Sky View Lite application is available.  Both can be downloaded to their respective devices free of charge with upgrades available for nominal costs.  These applications engage your camera as a location finder and identify the object upon which the camera is focused.  For example, this month, as you direct your phone to the west sky, you will see the planet, Jupiter.  The application will identify the planet or star, as well as all of the constellations and other celestial bodies that are nearby.  

So now that you have your helpful application and sky viewing equipment in hand, let’s look at some fun events that will happen this month- January 2024. (Astronomy Calendar of Celestial Events 2024 – Sea and Sky (

Week 1 (Jan. 1-6)

Although December 2023 enabled us to enjoy non-stop viewing of meteors from the Geminid Meteor Shower, we will have yet another chance to view moderate sized Quadrantid meteors from Jan. 1-5 as the Earth travels through the dust grains left behind by the extinct comet identified as 2003 EH1.  The best viewing times are after midnight on the night of Jan. 3-4.  Look at the constellation Bootes; the meteor particles will emanate from this location.  

Week 2 (Jan. 7-13)

On Jan. 8, planets Mercury, Venus, and the celestial body Antares will be visible in the southeastern morning sky, just before sunrise. Also, the planet Jupiter is at opposition (the Earth is between Jupiter and the sun) and visible much of the night on Jan. 8.  On Jan. 12, look up in the morning eastern sky to see the planet Mercury, near the Earth’s horizon.

Week 3 (Jan. 14-20)

The waxing crescent moon* is close to Saturn on the evening of Jan. 14 so look close to the moon to see the planet Saturn. 

Week 4 (Jan. 21-27) 

The full moon this month occurs on Jan. 24-25.  This moon is called the Wolf Moon because wolves are known to howl when this moon arises in the night sky.  Bundle up to enjoy this spectacular Wolf Moon, the first full moon in 2024!

Week 5 (Jan. 28-31)

One of the last events in January will occur on Jan. 27 when Mercury and Mars are in close proximity to one another.  You can see these planets in the southeastern morning sky, just before sunrise.  

Well, those are the highlights for January 2024.  But don’t just limit your sky viewing to these dates and times; enjoy the evening and morning sky at any time.  Who knows, you might be the one to discover a new celestial body or event as you gaze at the sky above!

Until next month, keep your eyes facing the morning and evening sky to see the wonders of our universe as we Earthlings travel through it!

*For more information about moon phases, see What Are The Phases Of The Moon? | High Point Scientific.

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