2019 will feature two rare events that are well placed for North American observers. The first will be a Total Lunar Eclipse, and the other will be a rare Transit of Mercury across the sun.
Quadrantids Meteor Shower – January 3,4
The Quadantrids are capable of producing rich showers, and since the moon will not be a factor for the 2019 shower, it has the potential to be the best meteor shower of the year. The only thing that sets it apart from the rest is the peak times only last a few hours, so you have to be on the right part of earth to get that good show. It is predicted that Europe will be the best situated area, but it’s possible that North America will get a decent showing. You’ll want to be viewing the sky around 4:30 am before sunrise from a dark sky on January 4.
Total Lunar Eclipse – January 20,21
This Lunar Eclipse will be well situated for North American viewers, as the entire eclipse, from the moment the moon touches the earth’s shadow to the moment it leaves the earth’s shadow, will be visible throughout the night. While those on the East Coast will see an eclipse that begins after 10:30pm with totality starting at 11:40pm, those on the West Coast will have the comforts of seeing the eclipse begin at 7:30 and see totality at 8:40, thus it won’t be too late at night to see it. Hawaii will see the entire total phase and ending of the eclipse, but it will not see the beginning stages.
The next Lunar Eclipse visible from North America will be in 2021
Venus / Jupiter Conjunction – January 22
The morning after the eclipse, Venus and Jupiter will be close together in the pre dawn sky. This will be one of two conjunctions between the two this year. You could see both of them at the same time through a pair of binoculars, but not with a telescope unless viewed with a low power of 10-15x zoom. This will be best viewed in the southeastern sky around 5am before sunrise.
Moon Venus Jupiter Triangle – January 30
The Moon, Venus, and Jupiter will form a triangle in the sky just before sunrise. You can also spot Saturn further down. All you need is a clear view of the southeastern sky!
Moon and Venus Conjunction – January 31
The Moon will meet Venus in a close conjunction. Both objects will be close enough to see through a telescope at the same time starting around 12:00 UTC, or 4:00 am Pacific time. At 17:00 UTC, the two objects will be at their closest, and should be bright enough to see during the day through a telescope!
Mars Meets Uranus – February 12
On this night, Mars will be almost directly in line with Uranus. Even though they will be separated by over a billion miles in distance, Mars and Uranus will be close enough in the sky that you can see both of them through a telescope at the same time at low power. Mars will be a small orange-ish red disc, while Uranus will look even smaller. Catch them together in the western sky before they set!
Moon Jupiter Conjunction – February 27
The Moon will meet Jupiter in a close conjunction in the early morning sky. Both objects will be visible at the same time through a telescope!
Moon Saturn Daytime Conjunction – March 1
The Moon and Saturn will appear super close in the sky, almost appearing to touch. The only problem is it will happen during the daytime over North America. They will be at their closest around 19:36 UTC, or 11:36 pacific time. The Moon should be easy to spot. Saturn on the other hand will not be easy! Good luck!
Moon Jupiter Conjunction – April 23
At 11:33 UTC, or 4:33 am Pacific Daylight Saving Time, Jupiter and the Moon will appear super close together in the sky. Both objects will be viewable at the same time through a telescope!
Moon Saturn Conjunction – April 25
The Moon will once again meet Saturn. While they will be at their closest at 15:45 UTC (9:45 am Pacific DST) the conjunction will still be viewable during the morning hours before sunrise. You’ll still be able to see both objects at the same time through a telescope at low power around 10:35 UTC or 3:35 am Pacific DST.
Jupiter Opposition – June 10,11
This will be the night when Jupiter is at its biggest and brightest, and will be visible all night to observers. This will be the best time to view Jupiter through a telescope and see its cloud bands and moons. On this night, the Great Red Spot comes into view around 10 pm eastern/ 7 pm pacific and will be in view until around 1:30 am eastern/ 10:30 pm pacific.
Saturn Opposition – July 9,10
This will be the best night to check out Saturn, as it will be at its brightest for the year and be visible all night. Through a telescope, Saturn’s rings will take center stage, and you can easily see some of Saturn’s moons as well.
Saturn Moon Conjunction – July 15,16
You will see Saturn and the moon have a close meeting in the sky. They will be at their closest at around 2 am eastern/ 11 pm pacific time. At that point, you can see both objects in the same FOV at around 40x magnification.
Perseids Meteor Shower – August 12,13
While the shower is usually impressive, there will be a near full moon during the peak days, so you’ll only be able to catch some of the brighter meteors. Whether you’re in a dark sky or urban, it won’t matter too much due to the moon washing out the fainter meteors.
Neptune Opposition – September 9
Neptune can only be viewed through a telescope, but around this time it’ll be at its closest and brightest from earth. It will still appear as a tiny blue period, even at high magnification, but at least you could say you saw Neptune, right?
Uranus Opposition – October 27
Like Neptune, you’ll need a telescope to see Uranus. It’ll be at its brightest, but due to its distance it’ll still appear as a tiny pale cyan-blueish disc at high magnification.
Mercury Transit Across Sun – November 11
This event will be visible in North America – including Hawaii but minus most of Alaska. It will favor those along the east coast as they will see the entire transit event, while those on the rest of the continent will see the transit in progress as the sun rises.
You will need proper protection for your eyes to view this event. Since Mercury is so small, you won’t be able to see this event with the naked eye using your 2017 eclipse glasses. However, projection methods, and telescopes equipped with special filters can show the disc of Mercury move across the sun’s face.
This is a very rare event indeed. The next Mercury transit visible from North America will be May 7, 2049. This will definitely be an even you won’t want to miss.
More info and livestream times will be added soon!
ANOTHER Venus / Jupiter Conjunction – November 24
This will be the second of two conjunctions between the two planets. This time they will be closer, and can even be seen in the same field of view through a telescope at low power. Therefore, this will be the more impressive of the two. Look Southwest shortly after sunset.
Geminid Meteor Shower – December 13,14
This shower will be hindered by a full moon, but because there are usually a lot of meteors during this shower, you could still get a decent show if you’re patient enough.
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