Venus is ready to open 2024 with some interesting views, starting tomorrow as it rises near 4:30, climbing a bit higher by 6 o’clock, to be joined to the lower right by Acrab, the star on the left shoulder of the Scorpion. By 6:30, as twilight creeps in, look just above the horizon, and below Venus for the Scorpion’s heart, Antares, and well to its left, the planet Mercury. A Happy Celestial New Year!

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.