Stargazing for January 2021

Shooting Stars, Full Moon, and Earth's Orbit

January 1, 2021
Moon and Girl

Are you a stargazer? Here are a few fun sights and facts about January’s night sky.

Earth Flies Closer to the Sun

Did you know that Earth’s orbit around the Sun is not a perfect circle? In fact, our planet revolves around the Sun in an oval shape, which means that at certain times of the year, Earth is closer or farther from the Sun. 

Every January, about two weeks after the winter solstice, Earth reaches the point in its orbit where it is nearest to the Sun. This point is called perihelion. The opposite point, where Earth is farthest from the Sun, occurs in early July and is known as aphelion.

This year, Earth will be at perihelion on Saturday, January 2, when our planet will be only 91,399,454 miles away from the Sun! In July, when Earth is at aphelion, it will be 94,510,886 miles away from the Sun.

The Quadrantid Meteors

One of the most active meteor showers of the year happens this month! This year, the Quadrantid meteors will put on their best show in the very early morning hours (between midnight and 4 AM) of Sunday, January 3, when between 25 and 50 meteors per hour can be seen. Unfortunately, the Quadrantids will be a bit harder to spot than usual this year, since the waning gibbous Moon will be bright enough to outshine them.

Howl at the Full Wolf Moon

In January 2021, the full Moon arrives on Thursday, January 28. This full Moon, which is the first full Moon of the year, was traditionally called the full Wolf Moon, since wolves were known to howl more often at this time of year. Read more about the full Wolf Moon!