The first night of the new year features the great Orion climbing higher into the southeast, accompanied by his hunting dogs. Orion rises to one third of the way up in the southeast by 8 o’clock, with his three Belt stars angled to the lower left. There, rising into the heavens you’ll find the brightest star in the night skies, the sparkling Sirius beginning its annual evening display, now through early spring.
Today the Earth is at perihelion, its closest approach to the Sun, measuring some 147,054,707 km, or 91,375,559 miles. That “slightly” nearer Sun reflects off a waning Moon as it rises late this evening, about 11:15 PM, just one day from its Last Quarter, when it appears above the bluish-whit star Spica.
One of the most prolific meteor showers of the year often goes unnoticed by northern observers. The Quadrantid Meteor Shower produces as many as 100 meteors per hour, but only during a short window, this year midnight until 6:00 AM. The bright Last Quarter Moon will interfere with viewing.