Experts Pick the Top Stargazing Events for 2024
In 2024, we'll see some bright comets, a large planetary parade, a great solar eclipse, prolific meteor showers, and more. Let's get to the astronomical gems of 2024!
- January 3-4: Quadrantids’ peak
- April 8: Great American total solar eclipse
- April 21: Comet Pons-Brooks at its brightest
- May 5: Eta-Aquariids’ peak
- August 12-13: Perseids’ peak
- August 14: Very close approach of Mars and Jupiter
- August 21: Lunar occultation of Saturn
- August 28: Large planetary parade
- September 8: Best time to see Saturn
- October 2: Annular solar eclipse
- October 12: Comet Tsuchinshan-ATLAS at its brightest
- October 17: The biggest Full Moon in 2024
- December 7: Best time to see Jupiter
- December 4: The Moon near Venus
- Celestial events 2024: Bottom line
January 3-4: Quadrantids’ peak
You should definitely start your new astronomical year with the Quadrantids. With an hourly rate of 60 to 200 meteors at the peak, they're considered one of the most prolific meteor showers of the year. Quadrantids are also known for having bright fireballs. In 2024, their peak night coincides with the Last Quarter Moon rising around midnight, so look for the "shooting stars" before moonrise. You can also wait for a night with less moonlight — according to the IMO, Quadrantids’ activity lasts until about January 12, and bright fireballs have been observed even a few days after the actual peak.
To see how well-prepared you are for meteor viewing, take our quiz. Pay attention — only 7% can get a perfect score!
April 8: Great American total solar eclipse
One of the most anticipated total solar eclipses will take place on April 8 this year. The Moon will pass in front of the Sun, blocking all direct sunlight, and turning day into darkness. Only the solar corona will be visible. The April solar eclipse also has a hidden gem — a bright comet could be visible during this event!
This amazing sight will be visible from many locations in Mexico (including the states of Sinaloa, Durango, and Coahuila), the U.S. (including Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, and New York), and Canada (including parts of southern Ontario, parts of southern Quebec). Observers in the surrounding areas will have a chance to see the partial eclipse.
This will be the first total solar eclipse visible in Canada since February 26, 1979, the first in Mexico since July 11, 1991, and the first in the U.S. since August 21, 2017. Don't miss the next eclipse with our constantly updated infographic about 5 upcoming eclipses.
April 21: Comet Pons-Brooks at its brightest
The short-period comet 12P/Pons-Brooks will be brightest around perihelion on April 21. It is predicted to have a magnitude of 4.2, which is within the range of naked eye visibility. But that's not even the best part!
Comet Pons-Brooks may be visible during the total solar eclipse on April 8! As the sky darkens, the 5-magnitude comet may appear 27º from the Sun, close to bright Jupiter. To see the comet, use the free astronomy app Sky Tonight — it'll show where the comet is in the sky for your exact location. Learn all the details about the comet Pons-Brooks in the dedicated article.
May 5: Eta-Aquariids’ peak
In May, observers from the tropics and Southern Hemisphere can enjoy the strong Eta-Aquariid meteor shower — one of the best for southern observers. During the peak, it provides 40-85 meteors per hour. In 2024, the Eta-Aquariids’ peak nearly coincides with the New Moon on May 8, so the moonlight won’t interfere with observations.
August 12-13: Perseids’ peak
One of the most popular meteor showers in the Northern Hemisphere is the Perseid meteor shower. It has colorful meteors that often leave persistent trains and is very prolific — observers can see about 100 meteors per hour during its peak. In 2024, the Perseids peak near the First Quarter Moon, which sets around midnight, leaving the second half of the night free of moonlight. Read our article for the best time to view this meteor shower.
August 14: Very close approach of Mars and Jupiter
The best planetary conjunction of the year will be between Mars and Jupiter on August 14. The planets will pass within 0°18' of each other, appearing almost like a single star (the usual distance during a conjunction is at least 0°30'). Time and Date lists this event as one of 7 notable "close encounters" through 2040.
Look for Mars and Jupiter in the morning, a few hours before sunrise, in the constellation Taurus. They will be very bright and visible to the naked eye. If you want to confirm that these bright dots are really Mars and Jupiter, use the Sky Tonight app. Just launch the app and point your phone at the sky!
August 21: Lunar occultation of Saturn
On August 21, observers in Latin America, Africa, and Europe will see the almost Full Moon pass in front of Saturn, obscuring the planet. The rest of the world will see a very close approach of the Moon and Saturn. Lunar occultations of Saturn occur several times a year, but they're rarely this good! This occultation features a 95%-illuminated Moon and will be visible from Brazil, Italy, Norway, France, Switzerland and many other sites.
August 28: Large planetary parade
A planetary alignment of six planets — Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Uranus, Neptune, and Saturn — will take place on the morning of August 28. Most of these planets (except Uranus and Neptune) will be easily visible to the naked eye. So all you have to do to see this event is get outside and watch the night sky! And don’t worry if you miss the exact day — the alignment will be visible for a few days before and after the given date.
To learn how to observe a planetary alignment and what other alignments will take place in 2024, read the special article.
September 8: Best time to see Saturn
On September 8, Saturn reaches an opposition — weeks around this event will be the best time to view the planet. Saturn will be at its closest and brightest of the year, shining with a magnitude of 0.6. The planet will look like a prominent golden "star" in the night sky. Also, being on the opposite side of the sky from the Sun, it will be visible all night long! If you want to see Saturn's rings, use a telescope or binoculars, but you can enjoy the planet itself with the naked eye.
October 2: Annular solar eclipse
An annular solar eclipse will also take place in 2024. Observers from Easter Island and parts of southern Chile and Argentina will see a "ring of fire" — the bright ring of sunlight around the Moon. The partial eclipse will be visible from nearby areas. The next annular eclipse won't be visible in the same regions until 2027.
By the way, how well do you know the different types of eclipses? Can you see a solar eclipse from the Moon? Test your knowledge of solar and lunar eclipses by answering these and other questions in our quiz!
October 12: Comet Tsuchinshan-ATLAS at its brightest
In October, we'll have a chance to see an exceptionally bright comet — the brightest since 2020. On October 12, C/2023 A3 (Tsuchinshan-ATLAS) will make its closest approach to the Earth, at which time the comet will reach maximum brightness and may be visible to the naked eye. Astronomers predict it will have a magnitude of -0.9 — the luminosity of the brightest stars! Don't miss this event by setting a reminder in the Sky Tonight app. Learn more about C/2023 A3 in our guide, which includes the comet’s monthly path across the sky.
October 17: The biggest Full Moon in 2024
The Supermoon on October 17 will come the closest to the Earth than any other Full Moon this year, so it will appear the biggest and brightest. See it with your own eyes to compare it with the other Full Moons! Also, did you know that the October Full Moon is known as the Hunter's Moon? Find out why in this colorful infographic.
December 7: Best time to see Jupiter
Another bright planet will be at opposition this year: look for Jupiter, the second brightest planet, around December 7. It will shine with a magnitude of -2.8 and will be in the opposite direction of the Sun in our sky. Jupiter will reach its highest point around midnight local time, but you can see it with the naked eye as the sky darkens.
December 4: The Moon near Venus
Venus will be well-visible for most of 2024, and at the end of the year, it will delight stargazers with a truly spectacular event. On December 4, the two brightest objects in the night sky — the Moon and Venus — will come close together. Venus will look like a miniature version of the quarter Moon through small backyard telescopes, but if you don't have the equipment, don't worry! The event will be visible to the naked eye. Just go outside in the evening and look at the thin lunar crescent and the luminously bright dot nearby.
Although December's close approach will be the most spectacular, it's not the only time the Moon will meet Venus this year. Learn more about the other events in our dedicated article.
Celestial events 2024: Bottom line
In 2024, astronomy enthusiasts will see some truly unique and rare events, such as an extremely bright comet, a very close encounter between Mars and Jupiter, a large planetary parade, and more. Keep exploring the sky, and we'll do our best to make your journey even more fun! To easily find any object in the sky, use the Sky Tonight app, which displays all celestial objects for free.
Wishing you clear skies and happy observations!