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15 Must-See Astronomy Events in the 2024 Night Sky

The New Year is upon us – and you know what that means! It’s time to turn over calendars, come up with resolutions, and look forward to another orbit ’round the sun. The celestial dance is consistent, and that means that some of the best events in the 2024 night sky are similar from years past; others are new and exciting opportunities to get out and enjoy the night sky.

From newly discovered (and long-known) comets and active meteor showers to chances to spot the foundational objects in our solar system, 2024 promises many nights of enjoyable time under the stars if you take advantage of them.

2024 Night Sky Hero

In this post, I’ll help you accomplish your New Year’s resolution to go stargazing more by highlighting 15 of the best astronomy events of the year. These are the events I have on my calendar, though there are of course others – and I highlight them each month in my Night Sky Guides (which you can see on the Explore page).

Whether you use this as your guide for the year – or just as your starting point – you’ll be delighted by any chance you have to see these events. Read on to discover the best night sky events in 2024.

New Moons in the 2024 Night Sky

2024 Night Sky - New Moons

In addition to all of the specific events mentioned below, I thought it might be helpful to start with a list of the new moons throughout 2024:

  • January 11
  • February 9
  • March 10
  • April 8
  • May 7
  • June 6
  • July 5
  • August 4
  • September 2
  • October 2
  • November 1
  • November 30 (a blue moon!)
  • December 30

These nights when the moon is at its darkest phase are good for stargazing, even if there isn’t a specific event happening that night. But now let’s get to those 2024 night sky events I recommend so you can plan for them.

January 4 – Peak of the Quadrantids Meteor Shower

Night Sky in January - Quadrantids - Mike Lewinski via Flickr
Photo credit: Mike Lewinski via Flickr

The new year kicks off with a bombastic event – as it always does – with the peak of the Quadrantids meteor shower in early January. This meteor shower radiates from a point in the sky where a constellation no longer “exists” – Quadrans Muralis was an early constellation that is no longer part of the 88 official constellations in the sky.

The Quadrantids are one of the most active meteor showers of the year, though most people don’t realize how well the hourly rate of meteors compares to the more popular showers like the Perseids and Geminids. The difference between these latter-year showers and the Quadrantids is that the peak of the Quadrantids is very short – usually just a few hours. This means that if it occurs in the daylight, dawn, or dusk hours, it can be hard to see any meteors at all that year.

In 2024, the peak of the Quadrantids is predicted around 5am EST, so your best viewing prospects will be pre-dawn on the morning of January 4th.

March 9 – Best Weekend for the Messier Marathon

Messier Marathon Hero - Horizon-Productions-SFL-via-Flickr
Photo credit: Horizon Productions SFL via Flickr

Have you ever heard of the Messier Marathon? This is an opportunity to try and see all 110 Messier objects in a single night… yes, it’s an ambitious prospect!

The “best” night for the Messier Marathon each year typically happens at the new moon between March and early April, due to the Earth’s planetary position in our annual orbit. In 2024, the new moon will be on March 10th, making the weekend of March 9th-10th your best opportunity for completely dark skies all night long.

If you want to make an attempt at running the Messier Marathon, be sure to check my guide for this year’s “event.”

April 7 – Close Approach/Lunar Occultation of the Moon & Venus

Lunar Occultation of Venus - Raymond Shobe via Flickr
Photo credit: Raymond Shobe via Flickr

On the night of April 7th, most people will have the opportunity to see the Moon and Venus as close as 20.7 arcminutes from one another (depending on your location on Earth).

However, if you live in Central America or eastern North America and your skies are clear, you can potentially spot the Moon passing directly in front of Venus – a lunar occultation! Here’s a resource on the details and timing of the event, but best of all, the Moon will be new on this night, making this lunar occultation much like a solar eclipse where the dark disk of our satellite obscures bright Venus as it moves across the night sky.

April 8 – Total Solar Eclipse

Diamond Ring during Solar Eclipse - Sheila Sund via Flickr
Photo credit: Sheila Sund via Flickr

You’ve probably heard: there’s an actual solar eclipse happening in April too, and it’s a big one (at least for those of us in North America). Much like back in 2017, this solar eclipse will pass across a large swath of the U.S., and totality will be visible in some major cities and even a few national parks.

I’ve got a resource about this total solar eclipse with all the details, as well as more information on the statescities, and national parks where totality will be visible if you want to plan a trip.

As part of researching this month’s solar eclipse, I was delighted to discover there’s another unique astronomical sight – one that may well be visible during totality!

Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks was discovered back in 1812, but recent calculations showed it will be visible near the sun on April 8th; this is because it’s approaching perihelion (its point closest to the sun) during its 71-year orbital period.

Here’s a cool resource about spotting Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks during the eclipse, which will be the best viewing opportunity.

April 22 – Peak of the Lyrid Meteor Shower

Lyrids Meteor Shower Hero - Rocky Raybell via Flickr
Photo credit: Rocky Raybell via Flickr

In the early morning hours of April 22nd, head out for a night sky show of meteoric proportions. The year’s first major meteor shower in the northern hemisphere, the Lyrids, will peak around dawn on the 22nd, so your best viewing prospects will be in the pre-dawn hours. The Lyrids typically produce a Zenith Hourly Rate (ZHR) around 18 on the night of peak activity.

Despite their name, look for them from the radiant point in the constellation Hercules; this will be visible most of the night for stargazers in the northern hemisphere. Best of all, the moon will be very dim, just a 13% illuminated waxing crescent moon; it won’t present much interference to spotting Lyrids as they shoot across the sky.

Here’s my complete guide to seeing the 2024 Lyrids Meteor Shower, my birthday meteor shower!

August 12 – Peak of the Perseid Meteor Shower

Perseids Hero - Jay Huang via Flickr
Photo credit: Jay Huang via Flickr

After a long gap through the summer when there aren’t any 2024 night sky events I recommend, no list of yearly astronomy events is completed without including the most popular meteor shower of the year, the Perseids.

The Perseids typically peak somewhere between August 12th and 14th each year. This year it’s predicted they’ll peak in the morning (daytime) hours of August 12th. Before the sun rises that day, you can expect to see up to 150 meteors per hour – hence why this is such a popular astronomy event to see!

Unlike last year when the Moon was in an ideal phase, this year’s meteor shower will occur when the Moon is in its Waxing Gibbous phase and about half illuminated. You’ll still be able to spot Perseid meteors, but the Moon may affect how many.

Ready to plan your Perseids-viewing experience? Check out my guide.

September 17 – Partial Lunar Eclipse

2019 Lunar Eclipse - US Army Corps of Engineers via Flickr
Photo credit: US Army Corps of Engineers via Flickr

You might think that April 8 was the only solar eclipse of the year, but you’d be mistaken: there’s another one coming up in early October, which means there’s at least one lunar eclipse to see too!

September 17th is that opportunity, when a partial lunar eclipse will be visible across most of North America, all of South America, and most of Europe and Africa. It won’t be a “full” “Blood Moon” but some of the Moon will be covered by the Earth’s umbra – unfortunately not much though!

I haven’t updated my lunar eclipse guide for this event yet, but you can see all the details here in the meantime.

October 2 – Annular Solar Eclipse

Annular Solar Eclipse - Takeshi Kuboki via Flickr
Photo credit: Takeshi Kuboki via Flickr

While it won’t be visible to the many millions of viewers that will see the April 8 total solar eclipse across North America, the second solar eclipse in 2024 will be enjoyed by those willing to make the trek south – literally.

The October 2nd annular solar eclipse will pass across South America, with annularity visible only across the southernmost tip of the continent in Chilean and Argentinean Patagonia. I’ll update my solar eclipse guide with details of this event once the April solar eclipse ends, but for now, you can check out this handy guide to see the details and decide whether the trip is worth it.

October 8 – Peak of the Draconid Meteor Shower

Draconids Meteor Shower - Meteor across a starry sky

The autumn is prime season for shooting stars, so bundle up! First up is the Draconids meteor shower, which peaks in the evening hours of October 8th. The good fortune of moon phases and meteor showers continues, as the moon will be a small waning crescent on this night, and present little interference for viewing.

While generally a slow meteor shower with only meteors per hour, the Draconids are a variable shower – some years we are treated to literally thousands of meteors per hour. Nobody has made predictions for 2024 yet, so keep your ears peeled for news as we get closer to the day. Additionally, I have a guide for seeing the Draconids (which will be updated a few months before the event) that will help you plan a night out to see them, however many there are.

October 12 – C/2023 A3 (Tsuchinshan-ATLAS) at its Closest & Brightest

Comet NEOWISE - nerolf via Flickr
Comet NEOWISE for comparison – Photo credit: nerolf via Flickr

While Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks certainly promises to be exciting during the April eclipse, there’s actually a second cometary viewing opportunity in 2024 that astronomers are more excited about.

Discovered just last year, Comet C/2023 A3 (Tsuchinshan-ATLAS) has the potential to inspire even the least interested sky viewers to look upward in October when it reaches “perigee” (its closest point to the Earth) and becomes exceptionally bright. It’s possible that C/2023 A3 (Tsuchinshan-ATLAS) may be as bright as some stars, much as Comet NEOWISE did a few years ago.

As we get closer to the date, if it looks like C/2023 A3 (Tsuchinshan-ATLAS) will be as impressive as astronomers are currently predicting and hoping, I’ll be producing a guide for how to see it – and I’ll add the link here once it’s published. In the meantime, this article is a helpful introduction.

October 21 – Peak of the Orionid Meteor Shower

Orionids Meteor Shower
Photo credit: Mike Lewinski via Flickr

Roughly two weeks after the Draconids, we’re in for another meteoric treat: on the night of Friday, October 21st, the Orionids meteor shower will reach its peak. While the Moon will be slightly less agreeable (nearing its third-quarter phase), you’ll still have a good chance to spot meteors streaking away from their recognizable radiant point near the constellation Orion.

While the Orionids aren’t nearly as active as other major meteor showers – with only an average of 15 meteors per hour – they are still worth heading out to see. While we don’t know what 2024 will bring yet, the Orionids is another one of the meteor showers each year that occasionally produces “fireballs” – exceptionally bright and dramatic displays as meteors enter the atmosphere. The chance to see a fireball is always worth heading out for!

My Orionids viewing guide will be updated in Summer 2024 to help you plan your own night spotting shooting stars.

November 11 – Lunar Occultation of Neptune

Night Sky Events - Neptune

There aren’t many planetary viewing opportunities on my list of the top 2024 night sky events this year; that’s not to say there aren’t good nights for doing so, but rather that they’re less impressive than other events happening – and I want to help you prioritize which nights to get out and enjoy.

However, there is one great event I can’t skip: the lunar occultation of Neptune on November 11th. Viewers across most of the United States and eastern Canada will be able to watch the Waxing Gibbous Moon pass in front of icy giant Neptune. Given that Neptune isn’t visible to the unaided eye, you will need astronomy equipment – ideally a telescope – to spot this event in its full glory.

November 17 – Peak of the Leonid Meteor Shower

Leonids Meteor Shower Hero

While there are other astronomical events as the months wind down in 2024, the three main ones I want to highlight in this post are meteor showers.

First up is the Leonids, which peaks in the middle of November. This year, it’s expected in the pre-dawn hours of November 17th, as the constellation Leo will be visible above the horizon throughout most of the night. Like the Orionids, the Leonids aren’t super active – roughly 15 meteors per hour, on average – but can also produce fireballs.

Need extra help spotting the Leonids this year? I’ve got a guide to help! (Will be updated in early Autumn 2024.)

December 14 – Peak of the Geminid Meteor Shower

Night Sky Events - Geminids - Henry Lee via Flickr
Photo credit: Henry Lee via Flickr

After a great dark sky in 2023, your biggest obstacle to seeing the active Geminids meteor shower this year is not the clouds – it’s the Moon! In 2024, the Moon will be just a day from full, and will definitely interfere with the ability to spot as many meteors as possible.

Despite the Moon, this is a must-see meteor shower. The Geminids typically peak around 120 meteors per hour, almost on par with the Perseids in any given year. Additionally, colder weather makes for clearer skies and less atmospheric interference – so while you’ll need to bundle up to enjoy this meteor shower, the viewing prospects are actually better than during the late summer Perseids.

Don’t forget to check out my guide to seeing the Geminids meteor shower for extra tips (will be updated in Autumn 2024).

December 22 – Peak of the Ursid Meteor Shower

Geminids Meteor Shower 2021 Hero

Last, but certainly not least, winter 2024-2025 begins with the December Solstice and the peak of the Ursids meteor shower. This is a substantially less active meteor shower than the Geminids, so let’s just manage that expectation now: the average rate of meteors per hour is only about 10 for Ursids. Additionally, the moon will be quite bright on this night, so it’s not as good for spotting meteors as other nights during the year.

Nevertheless, watching shooting stars is a nice way to end 2024, which is why I always recommend it if your skies are clear and you own enough layers to stay warm.

Have any questions about these astronomical events in the 2024 night sky, or are there others I should add to the list? Let me know in the comments!

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Valerie is the founder and editor of Space Tourism Guide. She grew up in Alaska, has lived across the U.S., and traveled around the world to enjoy the night sky from many different perspectives. Join her on this journey to explore space right here on earth.

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