Starry Nights: Major Astronomical Events in 2019


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Here is an interesting image of the progression of a lunar eclipse.

Sarah Hoag, Copy Editor

Our night sky has always been inspiration to the great artists, writers, and scholars of humanity: Shakespeare and the sun, Vincent van Gogh and his immortal paintings, and so many more. With the new year comes even more inspiration from our twinkling friends above. If you’re an avid stargazer, or looking to become one, then you’ve come to the right place. 

The first celestial event of 2019 may be the most extraordinary. This rare phenomenon has been dubbed the “Super Blood Wolf Moon Eclipse,” and is as intense as it sounds. The moon will turn red as a result of the lunar eclipse, and it will appear larger as a super moon. Be sure to catch the glory of the Wolf Moon on January 21st, at 12:12 a.m.! 

There are only three supermoons this year. The other two will occur on February 19 at 10:53 p.m., and on March 21st at 8:43 p.m.

From April 16 to the 25th, the Lyrid meteor shower will shoot across the sky! The show will peak on the night of the 22nd, and the morning of the 23rd, and will generate about 20 meteors an hour. The Lyrids are likely to produce dust trails that may be visible for a couple seconds.

At this time, the moon will be in its Waning Gibbous phase, so its light will block out fainter meteors, but you can still see the brighter ones. As with all meteor showers, be sure to watch the show from a dark location.

The Eta Aquarids will also rain down from April 19 to May 26. This is a much more active meteor shower, capable of generating up to 60 meteors an hour. These meteors originate from the debris left by Halley’s Comet in 1986. Watch them in their best form on the night of the 6th to the morning of the 7th. 

On May 18th, a rare blue moon will occur on May 18th, at approximately 4:11 p.m. This extraordinary event only occurs every 2.7 years, and the last sighting was in 2016.

The planet Jupiter is in the spotlight this year as well, on June 10th, the celestial body will be at its brightest. If you have a pair of good binoculars, then you might be able to see Jupiter’s four moons as well. A medium telescope will also allow you to observe the planet’s cloud bands.

In the second half of 2019 are the Perseids. This meteor shower is also an extremely active one, with up to 60 meteors appearing every hour. It will run from July 17 to August 24, and will peak on the night of August 12 and the morning of the 13th. Unfortunately, the nearly full moon will block out the fainter meteors, and this is the case for most meteor showers. The luminosity of the showers will still make it a good show!

Mercury will experience a rare transit, on November 11th from 7:34 a.m. for about 5.5 hours. It will pass directly in front of the sun. If you use a telescope and solar filters, you can see the planet take the form of a black dot. 

2019 will end with a bang with, arguably, the best meteor shower of the year! The Geminids will shoot across the sky from December 7th to the 17th, and will peak on the night of the 13th and the morning of the 14th. These multicolored meteors are great in number, with a capability of 120 meteors an hour. Although the full moon may block out the fainter meteors, it will still be amazing to observe. 

If you wish to see the full list of celestial events for 2019, including minor meteor showers and eclipses in other countries, consult this calendar for more information. Gaze on, Medina!