Here are some of the amazing sights you can see in the northern hemisphere night skies from now until the end of April 2024:
- Comet 62P/Tsuchinshan, a 10-kilometre-wide chunk of ice and rock that returns to the inner solar system every 6.2 years. It will be closest to Earth on January 30th, when it will be within the constellation of Leo, but you’ll need a telescope or binoculars to see it.
- Venus and Mercury, the two inner planets of our solar system, which will be visible in the evening sky in late January and early February. Look for them low in the west after sunset, shining brightly among the stars.
- The Lyrids meteor shower on April 22nd-23rd, known for its fast and bright meteors that originate from the debris of comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher. You can expect to see about 20 meteors per hour during its peak, which will be enhanced by a thin crescent moon. The meteors will appear to radiate from the constellation Lyra in the east.
- The aurora borealis, or northern lights, which can sometimes be seen in high latitudes when solar activity is high. The best places to see them are away from city lights, near the horizon in the north. You might catch a glimpse of green, purple or red curtains of light dancing in the sky.
These are just some of the highlights of the night sky in the next few months. Let’s hope we’ll get plenty of clear skies to catch them at their best. Paul Brocklehurst