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Best Astronomical Phenomenon Occurring this Year

March 5, 2019
Image Credit: Pexels

Best Astronomical Phenomenon Occurring this Year

We were treated to a Super Blood Moon Eclipse in January, with the spectacular total lunar eclipse the last we’ll see until May 26, 2021. Millions of people throughout North and South America enjoyed a prime view of the bright disk transformed into an eerie orange-red hue. If you missed it or you were left wanting more, the good news is that’s not the only astronomical phenomenon you’ll have the chance to witness in 2019.

Jupiter Meets the Moon in April

The intermediate phase known as the Waning Gibbous Moon occurs just after a Full Moon, when its face is 100% illuminated and it’s beginning to get smaller. On April 23, if you look up to the southern sky at dawn, you’ll be able to see the Waning Gibbous Moon make a very close encounter with our solar system’s largest planet, Jupiter. The pair will rise in the east at about 1 a.m. and ride high in the south by sunrise. Looking at it with the naked eye is a magnificent sight, but it’s even more stunning to gaze at through a telescope or pair of binoculars.

The Year’s Best Meteor Shower in May

Every spring, when our planet passes through the debris trail from Halley’s Comet, bits burn in the atmosphere resulting in the Eta Aquarid meteor shower as NASA stated in a blog post. On May 6, 2019 the Eta Aquarid meteor shower will take place during a dark new moon, which means it will be much easier to view than the Geminid and Perseid meteor showers which will be under a bright moon, washing out many of their shooting stars. You’ll get the best view of any meteor shower during a new moon thanks to the reduced amount of natural light pollution making it easier to see dimmer meteors.

Total Solar Eclipse Over South America in July

Those in South America will get to enjoy their own Great American Eclipse in 2019. The first total solar eclipse since the much-talked-about event in 2017 over North America will take place on July 2, causing day to turn to night in parts of the region. The best views will be from the rockies in areas like Colorado Springs and Boulder. Most of it will occur unseen over the Pacific Ocean, but it will be visible across areas of Chile and Argentina, something known as the path of totality. The rest of South America will get to witness a partial solar eclipse.

Mercury Passes Between the Earth and Sun in November

For five hours and 29 minutes on November 11, Mercury will be visible as it passes between the Earth and Sun – seen like a little black speck on the big orange ball in the sky. It will begin at 8:35 a.m. EST, lasting until 2:04 p.m. EST as one of only 14 occurrences in the 21st-century. The last such transit happened in 2016 and the next won’t be until 2049. Some local observatories, astronomy clubs and science centers will offer viewing parties. If you plan to view on your own, at minimum you’ll need a telescope or safe, solar viewing filtered binoculars to witness this phenomenon to avoid damaging your eyesight.

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