In Our Skies, January 2024

by Kevin Shank and Adrian Shank | Jan 2, 2024 | 0 comments

January starts off with a bang. The Quadrantid meteor shower, often considered one of the best showers of the year, peaks the night of 3/4. The best views will occur in the early morning hours of the 4th. With minimal moonlight this year, they should be fun to watch. While they radiate from Bootes, these meteors might be seen anywhere in the sky. The ZHR is 120, but viewers see less than ZHR.

January 12, Mercury is at its greatest western elongation from the sun. While it will be at its highest point above the horizon, you will still need to look low—about ten degrees above the horizon—in early morning before it fades into the light of dawn.

By mid-February, comet C/2021 S3 PanSTARRS is projected to be 30° above the horizon near dawn, and 36° degrees by end of month. At its brightest, predictions are for 6th magnitude. While a little dim for viewing without binoculars, this could be a good binocular/telescope target.

The Orion Nebula is probably the most beautiful nebula to view in a telescope. It is the center “star” of the three that make up Orion’s sword. It is in a favorable position for viewing these evenings.

Orion Nebula as seen through a telescope
This is a typical view of the Orion Nebula through a telescope.
Photo © Shaphan Shank.

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