January Guide to the Bright Planets
Welcome to the January 2022 Sky Watch by Bob Berman. A fine, eclipse-filled year begins with the planets in the evening sky only at the very beginning and then again in the final part of 2022. So, enjoy the bright planets in the January night sky while you can! See viewing tips.
On the year’s first evening, look low in the west 40 minutes after sunset to see Venus, Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter.
January 2: New Moon
The 2nd of January brings the new Moon, when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible from the Earth. This is an important day for cultures which follow lunisolar calendars (Hebrew, Chinese, Islamic).
January 3–4: Quadrantids Meteor Shower
The Quadrantids are the first major meteor shower of 2022, peaking the night of Monday, January 3 into the morning of the 4th. This year, thanks to a New Moon phase on January 2, the skies will be darker than normal. This means that this above-average shower is worth a look! Meteor showers can be seen from EVERYWHERE on Earth. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight but before morning twilight. See the 2022 Meteor Shower Calendar for more detail
January 4–5: The Moon Meets Saturn and Jupiter
The waxing crescent Moon will appear near Saturn the evening of January 4 and Jupiter the evening of January 5, 2022.
- On Tuesday, the 4th of January, look low in the west after sunset for the slender crescent Moon (only 2 days old). There will be a conjunction of the Moon and Saturn, with the planet Saturn appearing to the right of the waxing crescent Moon.
- On Wednesday, January 5 the Moon pairs with Jupiter as dusk fades to darkness. The King Planet will appear about about 7 degrees above the waxing crescent Moon. The Moon will appear about 22 degrees above the southwestern horizon as evening twilight ends.
Also, January 5 is the last time we’ll see Venus as an “evening star” at night, above the horizon 30 minutes after sunset.
January 17: Full Wolf Moon
The first Full Moon of 2022 rises on Monday evening, January 17. The Moon will appear full for about three days around this time, from Sunday evening through Wednesday morning. It’s known in some cultures as the Wolf Moon. There are alternative names as well. Learn more about the Full Wolf Moon.
After the full Moon on the 16th, the brightest planet visible will be Jupiter, appearing 20 degrees above the southwestern horizon. Much fainter is Saturn, appearing to the lower right of Jupiter at only 2 degrees above the horizon and setting 15 minutes later.
Orion the Hunter Reigns in the January Sky
All of Orion’s stars are easy to spot in the winter sky. Let’s do some old-fashioned stargazing and take a look at the Orion constellation!
Sirius, Brightest Star of January
The brightest “star” of the night sky is Sirius, the Dog Star. Ready to star hop? Just look up towards Orion, the Hunter, and his bright belt. Then follow it downward. Orion’s Belt always points to Sirius. Read more about Sirius.