Jan 2024: Take a look at the sky to see what cosmic events are coming up. 

January 3, 4: Quadrantids Meteor Shower.

At its peak, up to 40 meteors per hour will show you dust grains that scientists think were shed by the comet 2003 EH1. The shower is open every year from January 1st to 5th. 

 This year, it's at its strongest on the night of the 3rd and the morning of the 4th. Looking toward the star Bootes will help you see most of the show. The best place to do this is somewhere dark after midnight.

January 27: Mars, Venus, and Mercury Alignment 

If you're in the Northern Hemisphere and it's just before sunrise, look low above the southeast sky for Aries. Moon and Mars will be clear for you to see. From down under, the planets will appear a little higher. Go to Starwalk to see more stellar alignments this year.

The comet 144P/Kushida

This short-period comet comes around once every 7.6 years. You can look at it with big binoculars or a small telescope. Kushida came closest to Earth on December 12, 2023. 

On January 25, 2024, it will be at its perihelion, or closest point to the sun, and scientists expect it to shine with at least a magnitude of 7.4. If you live in the Northeastern U.S., look for the comet above your southeast sky after dark.

Asteroids Vesta. To see Vesta, the second-massiest object in the main part of the asteroid belt, at its brightest (magnitude 6.7), January is the best month of the year. Vesta is so big that it makes up almost 9 percent of all asteroids, which means it's almost like a small planet.

Vesta is made up of a shell, a mantle, and a core. Around its rocky body is a belt of deep troughs, and one of them is bigger than the Grand Canyon. A metric unit (AU) is the distance from Earth to the sun, which is about 1.5 AUs. Looking up at the eastern sky as dusk turns to night if you are in the northeastern U.S.

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