During January 2024 there will be many great reasons to peer into the night sky. The month will be full of unmissable astronomical events: between meteor showers, conjunctions of planets and even an occultation, there will truly be something for everyone! The Moon will be involved in many of these events and towards the end of the month it will show itself in all its beauty during the suggestive full moon of the wolf. To follow some of these events it may be necessary to equip yourself with a telescope or binoculars, but most can be followed with the naked eye.
The Quadrantid meteor shower
The Quadrantids meteor shower, one of the largest ever, will make the first nights of 2024 wonderful. From the latitudes of Italy it will be visible from midnight to dawn and will reach its peak on the night between 3 and 4 January in the hours before dusk, when the Moon will be lower on the horizon. It may even be possible to see up to 120 meteors per hour.
It will also be possible to observe three minor meteor showers: that of the Delta Cancrides, whose peak is expected on January 17, that of the Alpha Irises, which will reach its maximum two days later and, at the end of the month, that of the Alpha Leonids.
Conjunctions not to be missed
During January there will be various conjunctions, many of which will involve the Moon. The Earth’s natural satellite will first approach Venus (January 8), then Mercury (January 9), Mars (January 10), Saturn (January 14) and, finally, Jupiter (January 18). Furthermore, on January 15th, the Moon will occult Neptune. In astronomy we talk about occultation when a celestial body obscures another with an apparent diameter smaller than its own.
The Full Wolf Moon
January’s full moon, called the Full Wolf Moon or Full Ice Moon, will be visible in the night sky on the 25th day of the month. The name derives from a Native American legend, according to which the celestial body of the Earth was created by a wolf intent on howling towards the sky.