What celestial shows will we experience in 2024?

Milky Way

As the calendar turns to a new year, skywatchers have a new slate of events that will wow them as they peer into the night sky.

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January

January starts with a bang as the Quadrantids Meteor shower is expected to peak on Jan. 3 and 4. The shower started back in November and will end by the middle of the month. To see the most shooting stars and fireballs, look after 1 a.m. local time.

On Jan. 8, Pittsburgh-based company Astrobotic will launch the Peregrine lunar lander, expected to land near the moon’s Ocean of Storms in February. It will take off from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

The Moon and Saturn will be “dancing” this month as the moon looks to be floating above Saturn on Jan. 13. Saturn will be above the moon the next night. Look at the sky at about 8:10 p.m. EST on both nights.

On Jan. 20, SLIM, a mission from Japan, is expected to finish its lunar orbit that launched in September and land on the moon on Jan. 20.

January will be the month to see the Full Wolf Moon on Jan. 25. It will have peak illumination at 12:54 p.m. ET. Since it will be daylight when it hits total fullness, you’ll still be able to see it on the northeastern horizon after the sun sets.

Comet 144P/Kushida will hit perihelion when it is the closest to the sun on Jan. 25. It was the closest to the Earth last month and comes around about every 7.6 years.

Jan. 27 will have Mars, Venus and Mercury in alignment just before sunrise.

February

The shortest month gains a day as 2024 marks Leap Year.

Feb. 9 will be the time when the moon is the closest to Earth, considered a supermoon, but it will be too close to the sun to be visible.

While Astrobotic is expected to land its lunar lander in February, Intuitive Machines of Houston is getting its lander ready for takeoff which could happen in mid-February.

Japan has announced it will launch its H3 rocket as soon as Feb. 14 or Feb. 15 local time. Backup windows will go through the end of March.

C/2021 S3 or PanSTARRS will be at perihelion on Feb. 14.

Feb. 24 marks the Snow Moon, which will hit its peak at 7:30 a.m. ET.

March

C/2021 S3 or PanSTARRS will be the closest to Earth on March 14.

March 19 is the first day of spring/vernal equinox.

The Worm Moon will rise on March 25, reaching its peak at 3:00 a.m. ET. It is also a penumbral lunar eclipse which will be seen in North America, Mexico, Central America and South America.

April

Boeing is looking to send its long-delayed Starliner capsule and crew of astronauts to the International Space Station in April.

There will be a total solar eclipse with the moon directly between the Earth and the sun on April 8 but the entire country won’t be able to experience it. You will have to be in a specific 115-mile-wide swath of land to see the sky grow dark in the midafternoon. The path will cover Nazas, Mexico to Newfoundland with the totality lasting about four and a half minutes.

April 8 will also bring Comet 12P/Pon-Brooks into view thanks to the eclipse and six planets will be visible during the totality.

The Lyrids Meteor Shower will occur from April 16 through 25 with the peak hitting on April 22 just before the Pink Moon will hit its peak on April 23 at 7:49 p.m. ET.

May

The Eta Aquarids are best seen in the Southern Hemisphere but may be able to be seen low in the sky, peaking the morning of May 6.

China is planning its fourth moon landing on the far side of the moon in May, with the mission to bring back moon rock and dust to Earth.

May 23 at 9:53 a.m. ET will be the peak Flower Moon.

June

June 20 is the Summer Solstice or the first day of summer, and the longest day of the year.

The Strawberry Moon will rise at 9:08 p.m. ET on June 21.

July

Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower will occur from July 12 to Aug. 23.

One month after the Strawberry Moon, the Buck Moon will reach its peak on July 21 at 6:17 a.m. ET.

August

The Perseid Meteor Shower is considered one of the “most spectacular of the year,” and if the conditions are just right you should see between 50 and 100 shooting stars an hour. The peak will happen on the night of Aug. 12 through dawn on Aug. 13 with the best viewing because of the moon’s 50% illumination happening from early morning until dawn.

Aug, 19 at 2:26 p.m. ET will be the peak for the Surgeon Moon.

September

September brings the Harvest Moon’s peak at 10:34 p.m. on the 17th.

The same night as the Harvest Moon, there will be a partial lunar eclipse starting at 10:12 p.m. ET and will happen when part of the moon passes through the shadow of the Earth. It will peak at 10:44 p.m. ET and end at 11:17 p.m. ET. It will be a supermoon.

Sept. 22 is the September Equinox or the first day of fall.

Comet C/2023 A3 (Tsuchishan-ATLAS) will reach perihelion on Sept. 27.

October

NASA’s Europa Clipper is expected to start its mission to Jupiter’s moon in October, but won’t arrive at the largest planet’s orbit until 2030.

The European Space Agency will also launch a spacecraft as part of its Hera mission destined for the Dimorphos asteroid. It will look to see if NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test, which hit the asteroid in 2022, was successful in redirecting the asteroid away from Earth.

On Oct. 5, a “lost asteroid” or 2007 FT3, which weighs about 54 million tons, will do a flyby of Earth.

The Draconids Meteor Shower will occur on Oct. 7.

Comet Tsuchinshan-ATLAS, or A3, will pass near Earth from Oct. 12 to 19. Remember close is relative. It will be about 44 million miles away from Earth at its closest point, but it could be bright enough to be seen by the naked eye.

The Hunter’s Moon will reach its peak at 7:26 a.m. ET on Oct. 17.

The Orionids Meteor Shower will start in September and run through November, but the peak will be on the night Oct. 20 through the morning of Oct. 21 with a maximum of about 10 to 20 meteors an hour.

November

Nov. 4 will bring the peak of the Taurids Meteor Shower, which started on Sept. 7 and runs through Dec. 10.

November 15 at 4:29 p.m. ET will bring the Beaver Moon’s peak.

The Leonids Meteor Shower peak will occur from Nov. 17 to 18. It starts on Nov. 6 and lasts until Nov. 30.

December

December brings the Geminids Meteor Shower with a peak of up to 120 shooting stars an hour under perfect conditions, occurring on Dec. 14.

The final full moon of 2024, the Cold Moon, will occur at 4:02 a.m. on Dec. 15.

The Ursids Meteor Shower will occur from Dec. 17 to 25.

The December Solstice, or the first day of winter will happen on Dec. 21.

-- Information compiled from Popular Science, The New York Times, Space.com, Smithsonian Magazine, Great American Eclipse, Popular Mechanics, USA Today and EarthSky.

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