4 January 2011
Last updated at 10:27
A full moon and light pollution can make it difficult to see what is in the night's sky with the naked eye.
But when the Moon shrinks to a crescent - as it has this week - lunar light pollution is less of an issue. To mark this, Dr Brian Cox hosts Stargazing Live on BBC Two, 2000 GMT, 3-5 January.
The start of this week has been is a great time to sky-watch, with a meteor shower that peaked at midnight on Monday and a partial solar eclipse first thing on Tuesday morning.
The easiest object in the night sky for beginners to spot is the Moon itself. But Jupiter, Uranus and Saturn are all closer than usual at this time of year.
No telescope? Try naked eye astronomy. A star chart may help - see links below - as does a location with little light pollution. If you can see the Milky Way, the sky is dark enough to make the most of the view.
A full view of the night sky is the best way to start stargazing, says Dan Hillier, of the Royal Observatory Edinburgh and Dark Sky Scotland...
... but being able to identify specific constellations or features - such as the Andromeda Galaxy, our nearest large neighbouring galaxy, and one of the most distant objects visible to the naked eye - adds to the experience.
Naked eye astronomers can identify the constellation Orion from the three bright stars that form his belt. But this constellation also contains the Horsehead Nebula, centre, that can only be seen with a telescope.
And this is a deeper view into Orion's sword. Also known as the Hunter, it's a winter constellation in the northern hemisphere, and summer in the south.
But few skywatchers are lucky enough to get a glimpse of the Northern Lights, such as this spectacular show seen by Stewart Watt in Thurso, Scotland.