Many of us enjoy going out at night and look up at the night sky and dream for a while looking at the stars.
If you are, like me, you probably will be bringing your camera, and tripod to capture the beautiful night skies. Not all night skies are the same for one reason or another. I’m not just talking about light pollution in different areas, cloudy or clear skies nor am I referring to skies with different phases of the moon.
No, I’m talking about more rare events. Some happens just once each year, every few years or just once in a lift time. Events such as comets, meteor showers, eclipse of the moon, eclipse of the sun or occasions where stars are in perfect alignment for excellent viewing opportunities.
10 Must See Stargazing Events in 2013
April 25 – Partial Lunar Eclipse
May 9 – Annular Eclipse of the Sun (“Ring of Fire” Eclipse)
May 24-30 – Dance of the Planets
June 23 – “Supermoon” The biggest Full Moon of 2013
August 12 – Perseid meteor shower
October 18 – Penumbral Eclipse of the Moon
November 3 – Hybrid Eclipse of the Sun
Mid November through December – Comet ISON
All of December – Dazzling Venus
December 13-14 – Geminids meteor shower
Eclipse of the Moon or Sun
Eclipses happen each year, and 2013 is no different with three lunar and two solar eclipses. Unfortunately, due to the nature of an Eclipse where the moon, your location on earth and the sun line up in a perfect line these phenomena tend to be highly local and short-lived, but if you are lucky and in the right area or close to such an area, so it is worth researching further on these dates a head of time.
Located in North America, than write down “total solar eclipse” on Aug. 21, 2017, in your calendar, on this date a total solar eclipse will be visible across North America.
Dance of the Planets
Venus, Jupiter, and Mercury all fit within a 5° circle, the tightest three-planet grouping that will be visible without binoculars until 2026 On may 26 they will be within a 2.5° circle.
A “Super moon” as it has become coined in the media in recent years, is when a full moon coincides with the moon’s closest approach to Earth, this will happen in the morning of June 23, 2013. The precise time when the moon is at its fullest and at it is proximity is closest to Earth differs by merely 30 minutes. This happens not long after sunrise. The moon will be close to its largest size on the evening of the 22nd, so to get a super moon picture without having to get up at the crack of dawn this would be the time to head out. The super moon this year will be 30% brighter than a normal moon.
Perseid Meteor Shower
The Perseid meteor shower should peak on 12th of August. A waxing crescent moon should help to keep the sky dark, so the meteor shower can be seen clearly. This will likely be your best opportunity to spot meteors this year. In 2011 and 2012 the estimation was that 100 meteors fell per hour during peak, which was down from 2009 and 2010 with 173 and 142 respectively.
As recently as in September 2012 a pair of Russian amateur astronomers discover the Comet ISON. Comet ISON should be visible in late November.
Although Venus is always one of the brightest stars in the night sky, in December, Venus will be at its brightest for 2013.
Geminids Meteor Shower
The Geminids’ meteor shower produced the most meteors in recent years, last year 117 meteors per hour at the peak and an astonishing 198 meteors per hour in 2011. Unfortunately in 2013 the Geminids’ are not expected to match even the 2012′s show due to a near-full moon all night. Early riser could get a treat as the moon sets a few hours before sunrise and will be the best viewing opportunity to catch a lot of meteors.