The 2010’s are gone, but if you are a casual observer, and want to know what the best or most interesting celestial event will be each year, then look no further and start marking down your calendars.
Please note that this website is mainly targeting North American observers, so if it’s an event that is exclusive to other parts of the globe, then it’s not being featured.
2020 – The Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn
Jupiter and Saturn will appear the closest you’ll see possibly in your lifetime! The pair will be visible at the same time through a telescope, and you’ll be able to see both Jupiter’s cloud bands and moons, plus Saturn’s rings!
2021 – Total Lunar Eclipse
This will be the first Lunar Eclipse visible over North America since 2019. However, it will not be visible from the eastern half. Since it just barely completely enters Earth’s shadow, the time it will spend in Totality won’t be more than 14 minutes before the Moon leaves, and turns white again.
2022 – “Star of Bethlehem” Conjunction
While there will be more Lunar eclipses visible for North American viewers, the honor for “most interesting” will be a close conjunction of Venus and Jupiter. Many astronomers, including yours truly, believe that the “Star of Bethlehem” was actually an even closer conjunction between the two.
2023 – Annular Solar Eclipse
As a “warm up act” to the 2024 Total Eclipse, this “Ring of Fire” eclipse will trace a path from Oregon to Texas, and then down to Central and South America. Annular Eclipses get their name because the word “annulus” is Latin for “ring.”
2024 – “Great North American” Total Solar Eclipse
This one will be a longer eclipse than the one in 2017, and will trace a path from Mexico, into Texas, all the way up to Niagara Falls and Southeastern Canada. You definitely will not want to miss out on this eclipse, so start planning your travel and location to observe!
2025 – Leonid Meteor Outburst Predicted
While not at the level of a historic “storm,” based on Mikhail Maslov’s predictions from this webpage, an outburst of hundreds of meteors per hour is predicted on this night. While there is an even stronger outburst predicted in 2022, that one doesn’t favor North American observers while the 2025 show does.
2026 – Moon Eclipses Venus (Daytime)
This is one of those events you need to be observing at the right time during the day. On June 17, you can watch a crescent Moon eclipse the bright Venus, and then see Venus reappear on the other side some time later. You’ll need a telescope to watch it.
2027 – Venus Mars Conjunction
Venus and Mars will be very close together in the sky, visible at the same time through a telescope. The only downside is the pair will not be seen in the sky for very long.
2028 – Geminids Meteor Shower
No moon interference plus reliable strong meteor shower means a great night! You could expect to see an accumulation of hundreds, possibly over a thousand meteors from sunset till sunrise.
2029 – Asteroid Apophis Close Approach
Yes… that famous asteroid that was once thought to maybe one day strike Earth (don’t worry, it won’t). On this night, the large rock will be closer than some of Earth’s satellites. It could become a naked eye object (from a rural location), and thus be an interesting target to spot in the sky!
TL;DR – oh this article is short and there’s only a couple of sentences with each listed event… you’re just being lazy!
As you can see, each year will have something big to look forward to, and that’s just the tip of the ice berg! This website does its best to promote interesting and noteworthy events in the sky. You won’t encounter any click-bait articles promoting non-events.
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3 thoughts on “Next Decade’s Best Celestial Event By Year”
I’ve enjoyed your posts during 2109, always well researched and written with astronomy outreach in mind. However, I cannot let your statement: “Many astronomers believe that the “Star of Bethlehem” was actually a close conjunction between Venus and Jupiter” pass without comment.
Over the years I’ve observed a *very small* number of astronomers try desperately to tie the biblical event to an actual physical event. Comets, supernovae, planets and conjunctions are usually cited.
My issue with such a hypothesis is that:
a) if you are a believer, then you would accept the biblical description – that it was a STAR, which is not a planet. If the bible got this wrong, then what else did it get wrong? 🙂
b) if you are not a believer, then why bother?
c) if you are a scientist, you would know that those living at the time would have seen planetary conjunctions before. They are not uncommon. Wise men who see two planets approaching each other would not call them “a star”.
You would also understand that following a star all night would have you riding your camel first in an easterly direction then, as it passed overhead, in a westerly direction. You would end up at your starting point! Also, no astronomical object could hover over one place, nor could a single building below be identified from it. Earth rotates at 15° per hour. A star passing vertically overhead would trace a ground velocity of perhaps 400 metres per second. At DEC 31°N, less than three minutes after passing vertically over Bethlehem, the ‘star’ would have been sixty kilometres away, vertically above the Mediterranean Sea. Just three hours later it would be overhead in Morocco. It would hardly be an accurate marker for identifying a solitary barn.
Finally, do both of your two planets pass directly overhead at that declination. I’m not sure about Jupiter but I would speculate that Venus would not.
As a man of science, I hope you do not object to me discussing this with you.
Thanks for the reply. No objection, and happy to discuss!
I only kept the description vague in the passage to save time and space to leave it open for discussion. You’re right, I really should have said “some.”
While I am a believer, I don’t use the Bible for scientific literalism (like flat earthers do), but I do try and see the context for the time it was written and for whom.
It’s a popular subject for debate for sure, and even my Observatory once published an article in their magazine about the star of Bethlehem and going over the possibilities of what it was. Not because of a hidden Christian agenda, but to acknowledge that there were possible candidates and events… keeping it open for interpretation.
My battle isn’t necessarily with non-believers, it’s people who deny science, stay tunnel visioned on their literalism despite astronomy proving the universe, and don’t get a grasp on the wonder of it all.
Going over point c)
Yes, conjunctions are common, but there was a sequence of them from 3 BC to 2BC that astrologers in Babylonia (where the “wise men” were from) could have possibly seen as a sure sign. They were aware of a prophecy of a coming “messiah king” spoken by Jewish prophets because of the time Jews spent years in exile in Babylon a few hundred years BC.
We know that the planets in those days were simply thought of as “wandering stars.” They were still trying to understand why they moved, but did know there was something special about them. Jupiter of course associated with Kings (the king planet) and Venus being associated with love and fertility. There was also one more key object in the mix – Regulus, the king star.
You had a triple conjunction with three in 3BC in August seen the eastern sky, a close pairing of Jupiter and Regulus in September, and then nine months later in June they saw Jupiter meet Venus again in the west. Plus, both times Venus met Jupiter, they got extremely close. With the 2BC conjunction, from Babylon they could have been seen the two planets to “merge” and be a spectacular sight. The interesting thing is from Babylonia, the conjunction would have appeared super close, but from other parts, they could see more separation.
The dates of the two close conjunctions are August 11 3BC and June 17 2 BC (-2 and -1 on Stellarium respectively).
Certain Babylonian astrologers who remembered the Jewish prophecy would have noticed the sequence with interest, interpreted it, and thus travel to Judea.
In terms of what would appear to lead them south, it’s possible they noticed Jupiter’s retrograde motion in December of 2BC, appearing to “stop” its eastward path on the 25th, in the direction of Bethlehem from Jerusalem, which is where they went first to first (as Jewish kings were customarily born in Jerusalem, not six miles south in Bethlehem).
My point is, that is something they as astrologers would have noticed and interpreted as miraculous. The Star of Bethlehem is a small part of the entire Nativity story, and in the story only these Babylonian astrologers seemed to be the ones who noticed and interpreted it with their knowledge of the stars!
If you read it this far, thanks for the time. Like I said before, my battle isn’t with science or people of science. I believe what I believe, and whether you believe in a creator or don’t, it doesn’t matter to me. You and I are on the same team when it comes to sharing our passion for astronomy through our blog posts and astrophotography!
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Thanks for your friendly response.
It’s an interesting and legitimate exercise for astronomers to speculate on the types of celestial object which the “Star of Bethlehem” may have been – but when they do that, they must also (a) find corroborating historical evidence of a significant celestial event which occurred during the period; (b) come up with a hypothesis which explains how the wise men followed this fast-moving celestial object from Babylon to get to Bethlehem; and (c) explain how it was used to identify a single building once they got there.
My broad contention is that navigating by following any object in the sky other than Polaris would have sent the wise men on a path to nowhere. It leads me to the conclusion that the author was probably not well versed in celestial matters or navigation procedures and the story is a myth.
Anyway, I enjoy subscribing to your outreach blogs. Thanks for tolerating my arguments.
Best regards from Australia. 🙃