The celestial calendar was pretty rich in the early part of 2019 but it does not matter if you missed some of the more exciting events in the night’s sky. There are plenty more heavenly sights to keep a look out for over the course of the rest of the year. Whether you are an amateur astronomer or someone who takes stargazing very seriously, 2019 looks set to be something of a vintage year. All you need is a cloud-free night that allows you to view some of the following upcoming celestial events. So what does 2019 hold in store?
There were two supermoons in the first two months of 2019. If you want to catch the next one, then it will appear on the night of March 21st. A supermoon occurs when the moon gets a little closer to the Earth than it normally would as it passes by on its orbit. It is called a supermoon because even a small variation in its position relative to the Earth will make the moon look much bigger in the sky. The best supermoons are incredibly bright. Indeed, they can appear as much as 20 per cent more luminescent. Even if it is a cloudy night, you can tell the effect of a supermoon in the following 48 hours as the tides get much higher.
Jupiter at Opposition
On the night of June 10th, Jupiter will be close to the Earth making it more visible than at other times. With a simple telescope, you can even observe its moons. By using a pair of binoculars, it will be possible to view much of the stratification on the surface of the gas giant. The planet will be visible all night.
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The Transit of Mercury
An astronomical transit is the term for when a planet passes between the Earth and the sun. As you observe the heliosphere, the planet appears as a black spot that moves across it. Therefore, you should be careful when looking at Mercury as it passes by on its transit because observing the sun directly will damage your eyes. There are fewer then 15 transits that will occur in the entire century so this is a fairly rare event. Mercury is due to spend 29 minutes in transit on November 11th.
The Geminid Meteor Shower
Meteor showers are impressive events if you are lucky enough to have a clear night. This will be one of the most significant opportunities you will have this year to spot shooting stars as meteors burn up close to the Earth’s atmosphere. It is expected that around one hundred meteors per hour will be visible in the night’s sky on the evenings of December 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th. Stargazers will get more than one chance to spot the meteor shower, so this event in the calendar offers a better chance of seeing something worthwhile than most.