Skywatching Highlights for January 2022

By Dr. M Charlton
5th January 2022

Don’t miss the Quadrantid Meteor Shower

January begins with a new moon on the 2nd. And that means the first week of the month is ideal for stargazing because the few days before and after the new moon are the darkest. Head outside around 8 or 9 p.m. all week and look southward to be dazzled by all the bright stars of the Winter Circle, along with the Pleiades, and Orion.

The Quadrantid meteor shower peaks on the night of January 2nd and the morning of the 3rd. This tends to be one of the better meteor showers of the year, and often produces a number of bright meteors called fireballs. This year the peak coincides with the new moon, making for great viewing conditions, provided the skies are clear. You should be able to see a few meteors on the couple of nights before and after as well. Keep watching!

For the best Quadrantid meteor viewing, find a dark location away from bright city lights, point your feet roughly toward the northeast, and look up.

The meteors appear to come from the constellation Boötes, which includes the bright star Arcturus. (But they can appear anywhere in the sky!)

Generally, the best viewing will be after midnight. The source of the Quadrantids is thought to be the asteroid 2003 EH1, which might actually be an extinct comet. So start off your new year by catching a few shooting stars after midnight from January 3rd.

This year starts with some good views of the planets. Mars later in the month.

String of planets
Venus, Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter add sparkle to the New Year, while a thin crescent Moon joins in, too. | All Illustrations: Astronomy: Roen Kelly