Sky guide

Look up! 5 celestial events to watch in January 2023

A meteor shower, a solar phenomenon, and more.

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It’s 2023, and with the new year comes a new calendar of wondrous celestial events.

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NASA/SDO

This month, keep an eye out for a spectacular meteor shower, a yearly solar phenomenon, and the meeting of two bright planets.

Here are 5 skywatching highlights for January:

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5. Quadrantids meteor shower

Major meteor showers are sparse until spring, so don’t miss the Quadrantids in early January.

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picture alliance/picture alliance/Getty Images

The shower peaks on the evening of Jan. 3 and is visible until Jan. 16.

Only about 25 meteors pass through in the sky every hour, but the Quadrantids are known to produce bright fireballs.

4. Earth at perihelion

On January 4, our planet will reach the point in its slightly-lopsided orbit where it is closest to the Sun, called perihelion.

NASA/SDO

NASA/SDO

The Sun appears larger at perihelion than any other time of year — but only by 3.6 percent from Earth’s farthest point from the Sun.

The change is barely noticeable to the naked eye (and not worth burning your retinas to stare at).

3. Full Moon

Instead of staring at the Sun, wait until January 17 to gaze at the first Full Moon of the new year.

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Daniel Garrido/Moment/Getty Images

January’s full Moon is also known as the Wolf Moon, due to the oft-heard calls of wolf packs howling to each other in North American winters.

2. Mercury shines bright

January will be a fantastic month to spot Mercury, especially from the Southern Hemisphere.

NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

Around the middle of the month, the planet will rise just before dawn and reach its highest altitude on January 23.

On January 30, Mercury hits its greatest elongation with the Sun. From there, it will grow brighter into early February for a spectacular early-morning sight.

1. Venus and Saturn close approach

Just after sunset on January 22, you can catch a glimpse of these two planets nestled close together.

Marina Vukovic / EyeEm/EyeEm/Getty Images

Marina Vukovic / EyeEm/EyeEm/Getty Images

They start to become a visible pair on January 20, but will be at their closest point on January 22.

Afterward, Saturn will continue to sink toward the horizon, and Venus will rise higher as the days pass.