Here are the top five astronomy events of 2019:
Jan. 20-21: Super Blood Moon Eclipse
The most popular astronomy event of the year will take place in the middle of January. The moon will turn red during a total lunar eclipse. This will be the only total lunar eclipse of the year and it will be visible in the skies of all of North America.
As the moon passes through the Earth’s shadow, it will gradually turn rusty orange to deep red in color, earning it the nickname of a “blood moon.” The entire eclipse, including the partial phases, will last between 9:36 p.m. EST and 2:48 a.m. EST. However, the moon will appear red between 11:41 p.m. EST and 12:43 a.m. EST.
This will be the last total lunar eclipse visible anywhere in the world until May 26, 2021.
May 6-7: Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower
One of 2019’s best meteor showers this year will be the Eta Aquarids. Each spring as Earth passes through the debris trail from Halley’s Comet. The cosmic bits burn up in our atmosphere and result in the annual Eta Aquarid meteor shower.
While other meteor showers, such as December’s Geminids, bring many more meteors per hour, the Eta Aquarids will be one of the few showers this year that falls during the new moon. This makes it easier to see dimmer meteors that would not be able to be seen during a bright full moon.
Eta Aquarid meteors are known for their speed. These meteors are fast. They are traveling at about 148,000 mph into Earth’s atmosphere.
July 2: Total Solar Eclipse
The first total solar eclipse since 2017 will take place this July across parts of South America. Most of the eclipse will take place over the unoccupied waters of the Pacific Ocean; however, it will be visible across a sliver of Chile and Argentina.
The next total solar eclipse will not happen until Dec. 14, 2020. However, it will also be visible only in parts of Chile and Argentina. The next total solar eclipse visible from North America will not be until April 8, 2024
Aug. 12-13: Perseids Meteor Shower
This year, the Perseid meteor shower peaks on the night of August 12-13. The Perseid meteor shower is often considered to be one of the best meteor showers of the year. This is because of its high rates and pleasant late-summer temperatures.
This year won’t be the best showing for the Perseids as it falls right before the full moon. However, meteors associated with the Perseids are usually brighter than meteors from other meteor showers.
Nov. 11 Astronomy Events: Mercury Crosses Sun
A rare planetary alignment will take place on November 11. Mercury will pass directly between the Earth and the Sun, appearing as a small black dot on the Sun’s surface. It will be visible across much of the world. This event, known as a transit, does not happen often. Most recently, a transit of Mercury occurred on May 9, 2016, and it will not happen again until Nov. 13, 2032.
In addition to these astronomy events, 2019 will also feature three supermoons, a blue moon, multiple meteor showers and dozens of rocket launches from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
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by Michael R. Shea / Jan 7, 2019