Read our January sky notes to find out what’s in the night sky this month!
These constellations are well placed in the evening this month, but many more can be seen. Check the star map for more.
Orion is visible for almost the whole night, setting a couple of hours before dawn. Look for the distinctive Orion’s Belt (three stars in a diagonal line) rising in the east and moving across the southern sky. As the month continues, it begins to set earlier in the night.
Draco can be seen in the northern sky this month. As a circumpolar constellation, it is visible all night, reaching it’s highest point just before dawn. At this point it is close to the zenith, fading as dawn breaks closer to it each night.
Monoceros moves across the southern sky this month, rising in the east and setting in the west each night. It rises later as the month goes on, setting just before dawn. Look for it immediately to the left of Orion, but be prepared for the faintness of its stars.
Mercury stays too close the Sun to be seen for most of the month, but it peeks above the horizon for a short period. This includes its highest altitude in the evening sky on the 12th, where it can be seen in the south west. However, this will still be only 11° above the horizon, so difficult to spot. The following events take place below the horizon at night and are unobservable: greatest elongation east on the 7th, dichotomy on the 9th, inferior solar conjunction on the 23rd, and conjunction with the Moon on the 31st.
Venus will not be observable until late in the month, because it reaches inferior solar conjunction on the 9th. After this it will become a morning object, once it begins to move away from the Sun around the 25th. Its closest point to the Sun, perihelion, will be on the 23rd.
Mars stays below the horizon for most of the night, only becoming visible immediately before dawn. Consequently, it can only be seen very low on the south eastern horizon. Mars will be in conjunction with the Moon on the 29th.
Jupiter is in the south western sky as an evening object this month. As the month goes on it will set earlier, so best views will be earlier in the month. Jupiter will be in conjunction with the Moon on the 6th.
Saturn can be observed for the first half of the month, when it is in the south western sky in the evening. It can be found diagonally down and right of Jupiter. Saturn sets earlier as the month goes on, so best views will be at the beginning of the month.
Uranus is too faint to be seen with the naked eye. It begins the month high in the south eastern sky, and appears in the south near the end of the month. Throughout the night it moves towards the south west before setting in the early hours. Uranus will end its retrograde motion on the 18th.
Neptune is too faint to be seen with the naked eye. It can be found in the south western sky in the evening, before setting in the west in the early hours.
The Quadrantids reach their peak on the night of the 3rd. The radiant (origin point) of the meteors is in the constellation of Boötes. Meteors are visible all night, as Boötes is circumpolar and always in the sky. Best displays will likely be just before dawn. This is one of the biggest meteor showers of the year – you should be able to see up to 117 meteors per hour!
The γ-Ursae Minorids reach their peak on the night of the 19th. The radiant (origin point) of the meteors is in the constellation of Ursa Minor. This constellation is circumpolar, so meteors will be visible all night. Best displays are likely to be just before dawn, as it reaches its highest point after sunrise. You are likely to see about 2 meteors per hour.
Last Quarter: 25th
New Moon: 2nd
First Quarter: 9th
Full Moon: 17th
The Moon is at perigee, its closest point to the Earth, on the 30th, and apogee, its furthest point from the Earth on the 14th. This effect is not visually apparent.
The Moon is at perihelion, its closest point to the Sun, on the 15th and 31st, and aphelion, its furthest point from the Sun on the 18th. This effect is not visually apparent.
Points of Interest
The comet C/2019 L3 (ATLAS) will be at perihelion, its closest point to the Sun, on the 10th. This event will require a large telescope to see.
The comet 104P/Kowal will be at perihelion, its closest point to the Sun, on the 12th. It will be brightest on the 19th. This event will require at least a four inch telescope.
Asteroid 7 Iris will be at opposition on the 13th in the constellation of Gemini. It will be visible between 19:13 and 05:06 GMT, reaching its highest point in the sky around midnight. This event will require at least a four inch telescope.
134340 Pluto will be at solar conjunction on the 16th, passing around the far side of the Sun. This event will not be observable.
The comet 19P/Borrelly will be at its brightest on the 20th. This event will require at least a four inch telescope.
Visit Spot the Station to find out when the ISS will be visible from your location.
Last updated: 6th January