As the night grows late, and 2024 approaches – or perhaps after you’ve enjoyed the midnight countdown, and the new year is aready here – take a moment to look at the sky. Even if the fireworks are all over, you’ll still see some beautiful and colorful lights.
At midnight, the Moon is in the east. Sunlight illuminates three-quarters of the lunar hemisphere that faces our way, so it’s nice and bright. Its glare washes out the view of many fainter stars – especially those close to the Moon. But plenty of bright lights will shine through.
High in the south, for example, look for Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky. It should be twinkling more than any other star, shifting from red to blue to pure white. And if you’re in the southern parts of the country – south of about Dallas – you might also spot Canopus, the second-brighest star. It’s directly below Sirius, just above the horizon.
Orion stands to the upper right of Sirius. It may be the most beautiful of all constellations – and the easiest to find. Look for a short diagonal line of three stars – Orion’s Belt. It’s inside a rectangle of brighter stars.
And if you want a light that’s brighter still, look in the west for Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system. It far outshines everything else in the sky at that hour except the Moon – teaming with the Moon to bookend the sky on the final hours of 2023.
Script by Damond Benningfield