Resolve to spend time stargazing in 2024? There’s plenty to see in January

If you’re looking to explore new hobbies in 2024, consider dedicating some time to sky watching. It’s a fantastic way to appreciate the wonders of the night sky, and it doesn’t require much to get started. All you need is clear weather on the nights you plan to gaze at the sky. While a telescope or binoculars can enhance your experience, they are not necessary. If you’re just starting out, you can download a stargazing app on your smartphone to help you identify stars, planets, and constellations.

The beginning of 2024 offers a great opportunity to witness the magic of the night sky with the Quadrantids meteor shower. According to the American Meteor Society, the peak of this meteor shower will occur on the night of January 3rd into 4th. Although the shower began on December 26th and lasts until January 16th, the highest level of meteor activity will be on January 3rd.

For optimal viewing of a meteor shower, the best time can vary depending on the specific shower. In the case of the Quadrantids, the peak viewing hours are between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. Despite the moon being about half full on the night of the peak, you can still expect good visibility as long as the weather cooperates.

Once the Quadrantids meteor shower concludes, another exciting celestial event awaits on January 18th. On this day, Jupiter and the moon will appear almost side by side in the dark sky. Unlike many other events, you won’t have to stay up late to witness this spectacle. In the early evening, you can spot Jupiter to the left of the moon. National Geographic suggests that while Jupiter will be visible to the naked eye, using binoculars or a telescope would enhance your viewing experience. If you miss this event or the weather doesn’t cooperate, you’ll have more chances to see it on February 14th, March 13th, and April 10th.

The first full moon of 2024 will occur towards the end of January on the 25th. It will reach its fullest point in the sky at 11:54 a.m. and will appear full throughout the night. This full moon is commonly referred to as the wolf moon, likely because wolves are often heard howling during this time of year, as stated in the Old Farmer’s Almanac. Other names for the January full moon include the cold moon, hard moon, Canada goose moon, and frost exploding moon.

The moon has served as a way for humans to track the year and seasonal changes for centuries, as reported by National Geographic. Many cultures assigned nicknames to the full moons based on what was happening during that time of year. In the United States, several of the nicknames used today were coined by Native tribes.

Following January’s full moon, the months ahead hold more intriguing lunar events. In February, we have the snow moon, followed by the worm moon in March, the pink moon in April, the flower moon in May, and the strawberry moon in June. The second half of the year brings the buck moon in July, the sturgeon moon in August, the harvest moon in September (sometimes occurring in October), the hunter’s moon in October, the beaver moon in November, and finally, the cold moon in December.

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