Astrophotography in January 2023: what to shoot in the night sky this month

The Orion Nebula is high in the sky this month. Credit: Alex Andrews/Pexels


January is a great month for astrophotography in the northern hemisphere. The nights are long and the bright stars of Orion, Taurus and Gemini are shining in the southeast right after dark. 

Clear skies allowing, the most notable event of the month to capture is a conjunction of Venus and Saturn in the evening sky. It’s a rare opportunity to see the two iconic planets close together in the night sky before the ‘ringed planet’ disappears from view for a few months. Add a full ‘Wolf Moon’, a meteor shower and several chances to grab images of a beautiful crescent moon and there’s something for all kinds of astrophotographers to enjoy this month. Also check out our 10 key events for astrophotographers in 2023 (opens in new tab).

January 4: the Quadrantids meteor shower

Quadrantid meteor shower photographed among star trails in China last year (Image credit: Getty Images)

Few astrophotographers make much of the Quadrantids mostly because it occurs at the coldest time of year in the northern hemisphere, but with about 40 ‘shooting stars’ per hour it’s more prolific than most. You don’t need to do much other than using a wide-angle lens to frame an image of the night sky from your backyard, put it on continuous mode and let your camera rattle off a series of 30-second shots until about 3 a.m. You can then check your SD card the next morning for shots that include one or more ‘shooting stars’. The moon will be bright for this one so experiment with a low ISO.