Celestial Events in January 2024

~6 min

Kick off your new year of stargazing with a prolific meteor shower, some notable comets, and a planetary alignment. Read on for the complete stargazing forecast for January 2024!


Astronomical events in January 2024

Please note that we provide the event dates in GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). For your location, the exact dates may vary. To find out the time and date of the event for your city, use the Sky Tonight astronomy app.

*The highlighted events are the most spectacular events of the month.

Planets in January 2024

Northern Hemisphere

Look for Mercury (mag -0.3) near the southeastern horizon in the morning; the planet will be in Ophiuchus for the first half of the month, then moving into Sagittarius. Venus (mag -4.0) is low above the southeastern horizon in the morning, first in Scorpius, then in Ophiuchus and Sagittarius. Mars (mag 1.4) is located very low above the southeastern horizon in the morning in Sagittarius. Jupiter (mag -2.3) is visible in Aries from evening until night. Saturn (mag 1.1) can be seen in the southwest in the evening in Aquarius. With binoculars or a telescope, Uranus (mag 5.6) is visible in the evening and night in Aries. Even fainter Neptune (mag 7.9) is in Pisces in the evening.

Southern Hemisphere

See Mercury (mag -0.3) low in the east in the morning for no more than an hour. The planet will be in the constellation Ophiuchus and will move to Sagittarius in the second half of the month. Venus (mag -4.0) is visible in the morning, low in the east in Scorpius, then in Ophiuchus and Sagittarius. Look for Mars (mag 1.4) low above the southeastern horizon in the morning in Sagittarius. Jupiter (mag -2.3) is visible in the evening in Aries. Saturn (mag 1.1) is visible in the west in the evening in Aquarius. Use binoculars or a telescope to view Uranus (mag 5.6) in Aries and Neptune (mag 7.9) in Pisces in the evening.

Quadrantid meteor shower 2024

There is only one notable meteor shower that peaks in January, but it is worth several!

On the night of January 3-4, look for the Quadrantidsone of the most prolific meteor showers of the year, with an hourly rate of 60 to 200 meteors during the peak.

This year, the Quadrantids’ peak coincides with the Last Quarter Moon rising around midnight. So it's better to look for the meteors before the Moon lights up the sky. You can also view the meteor on any other night after the peak, closer to the New Moon phase. There will be fewer "shooting stars," but the viewing conditions will be better.

Quickly test your meteor-watching skills with our fun quiz, and share your perfect score with your friends! P.S. You can take the quiz multiple times, just in case you don't get 10 out of 10 the first time.

Meteor Showers Quiz
Think you’re a meteor mastermind? Dive into our quiz to see if you’re truly starry-eyed or just spaced out. 🌠 👀 Bonus: snag some pro tips to actually catch those elusive shooting stars!
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Find out what other notable meteor showers are in store for observers this year and when to watch them in our special article.

Full Wolf Moon

On January 25, at 17:54 GMT (12:54 p.m. EST), the Moon will reach its full phase; at that moment, it will be in the constellation Cancer. Our natural satellite will be fully illuminated, shining brightly in our sky all night — you won't need any special equipment to see it. But a pair of binoculars may come in handy to better observe the lunar surface and its features.

The Full Moon in January is often called the Wolf Moon. This tradition comes from Native American tribes: on cold January nights, the howling of wolves could be heard around villages. Of course, other cultures have different names for the January Full Moon. You can find them in our dedicated article.

Planetary alignment in January 2024

On the morning of January 27, look for Venus (mag -3.9), Mars (mag 1.3), and Mercury (mag -0.2). They will gather in a small area of the sky, forming a mini planetary alignment (also sometimes called a planetary parade). All the planets are bright enough to be visible to the naked eye, although they will be positioned quite close to the Sun in our sky.

Note that planetary alignments look different in different parts of the world, and January 27 is a general date when the event will be visible from most places. To find out what the alignment will look like from your exact location and when the best time to see it is, use the stargazing app Sky Tonight.

Comets in January 2024

There are several comets to keep an eye on this January. To locate them in the sky, use the free astronomy app Sky Tonight. It allows you to find the comet's coordinates for your exact location, so you know where to point your telescope or binoculars.

The short-period comet 12P/Pons-Brooks is expected to be one of the best comets of 2024, reaching magnitude 4 around perihelion in April. Meanwhile, it is already bright enough to be visible with binoculars. According to COBS, the comet will have a magnitude of 7-8 in January 2024. For now, it's better visible from the Northern Hemisphere. After perihelion, observers from the Southern Hemisphere will be able to see the comet.

The short-period comet 62P/Tsuchinshan has already passed perihelion on December 25, 2023, and is now heading for its closest approach to the Earth on January 29, 2024. At that time, it's predicted to have a magnitude of 9-10, which means it could be visible through medium-size binoculars. Observers in the Northern Hemisphere should look for the comet in the morning sky. It won't be visible from southern latitudes.

The short-period comet 144P/Kushida passed its closest point to Earth on December 12, 2023, and is now on its way to perihelion on January 25, 2024. Predictions for this comet vary — some say it'll only get as bright as magnitude 14, but there are also quite positive predictions that 144P/Kushida will have a magnitude of around 8 (within binocular visibility). Looks like we should wait a bit longer for a more accurate prediction.

How to navigate the night sky?

There are several ways to do this:

  1. Become a professional astronomer (which can take a long time, FYI).

  2. Memorize all the constellations, learn the brightest stars, and get a compass. It's easier than the first option but still requires a lot of effort.

  3. Get the Sky Tonight mobile app, which does all these things and more. It only takes a few taps to download and is free to use! This app is an interactive sky map that works for your exact location. It also works offline.

The choice is yours, but we'd stick with option number three!

Bottom line: space events in January 2024

In January 2024, observers may see lunar-planetary conjunctions, a close approach of the planets, a powerful meteor shower peaking, and several other astronomical events. Stargazers with binoculars can try to find comets or explore the surface of the Full Wolf Moon. To find all the celestial objects in the sky, use the Sky Tonight app.

We wish you clear skies and happy observations!