Have you ever just taken a moment to stop and look up to the stars? Time makes no difference, as the skies have been a source of wonder for generations.
If you really think about it, there's no end to the discoveries beyond our own atmosphere. It's also been a source of inspiration for some of the greatest minds in all of history.
And the new year is going to be an active year for celestial events. While some may be a little hard to catch, if you're in the right spot with the right app, you'll get a front-row seat to amazing eclipses and other celestial wonders of 2019. It just so happens that your first chance is right around the corner.
Get ready for a supermoon
The first big event is a lunar eclipse on Jan. 21. But it’s not just any lunar eclipse. This one is special for a number of reasons. First of all, it’s a supermoon. If you’ve never seen a supermoon, you’ll want to get the best view, which means you’ll want to plan your viewing time just right.
In Kim's recent podcast, she sat down with award-winning astronomer and educator, Andrew Fraknoi. Andrew is an acclaimed educator and author. In fact, he is one of the country’s leading experts on eclipses and other celestial events. Kim's interview with him is packed with everything you need to know about this special eclipse, including how, when and where to get the best view.
After you’ve listened to the podcast, you’ll be fully informed. Plus, you’ll know which apps you can view in real time, augmented reality, 3D and in conjunction with your Apple Wearables.
Here some other rare and striking events coming to a sky near you:
The moon joins Jupiter
If you look south toward the southern sky at dawn, you may be able to catch the waning gibbous moon (What's that? Click here to find out) get chummy with the bright planet, Jupiter on April 23. Both will make an appearance in the east around 3 a.m. Eastern and will be high in the south later that morning. You can view this striking event with the naked eye, binoculars, telescopes and viewing apps.
Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower
There's more than one meteor shower happening this year. The Perseid and Geminid showers won’t be as visible due to a bright moon, but the Eta Aquarids will take place during a new, dark moon. So this one will be the best viewing opportunity. Astronomers say that up to 30 meteors per hour will blaze across the northeast skies around 10 p.m. Eastern on May 5, reaching their peak in the very early morning of May 6.
Total solar eclipse
If you’re in the South Pacific, Chile or Argentina, you’ll be able to catch a striking total solar eclipse from 12:55 p.m. to 5:50 p.m. Eastern on July 2, with the maximum eclipse happening at 3:23 p.m. The path of totality traverses across South America from La Serena, Chile, to Buenos Aires, Argentina. The full eclipse will only be visible along a narrow band in these regions but with clear skies, people in Ecuador, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay will be able to see a partial eclipse.
Partial lunar eclipse
Starting at 2:43 p.m. Eastern on July 16, the Earth’s shadow will darken the moon for sky-watchers across South America, Europe, Africa, southern Asia and Australia.
Transit of Mercury
NASA calls this event a “rare treat.” Sky-watchers in certain parts of the world will get to witness planet Mercury as it glides across the face of the sun in about five hours’ time. Set your clocks for 7:35 a.m. Eastern on Nov. 11 and enjoy the viewing until around 1:00 p.m. Eastern.
With good weather, people in the Americas, Europe, Africa and Western Asia will get to see it. Safe viewing is very specific; you’ll need access to a small telescope fitted with the event-appropriate solar filter, so plan now! We won’t see another one like this again until 2032.
The Ring of Fire
If you happen to be in the Middle East or Asia on Dec. 26, a very impressive ring of fire annular solar eclipse will be yours for the viewing.
The moon will be further away from Earth, so it appears smaller than the solar disk. This results in a spectacular “ring of fire” effect. People in Saudi Arabia, Oman, South India, Sri Lanka, Sumatra, Singapore and Guam will get the best view. Make sure to use filtered eclipse glasses for safe viewing.
Crescent Moon meets Venus
As 2019 comes to an end, the Evening Star (Venus) and a waxing crescent moon will rendezvous quite low in the southwest skies at dusk on Dec. 28.
Apps to view these incredible events
There are some truly astounding apps which will catapult you into space for a front row, augmented reality, real-time viewing experience, plus teach you and your family all about space. Remember that apps always come and go, so be sure and check them out really well before you download anything.
Stellarium Mobile Sky - A 3D planetarium right on your mobile device.
NASA - Packed with thousands of images and videos, astronomy news updates, sighting opportunities and NASA's own Live TV.
The International Space Station Spotter - Gives you a schedule of visible events and the ability to set alarms so you won’t miss anything. Has a built-in compass and other star gazing tools.
The Solar Walk - A free interactive space encyclopedia which allows you to virtually explore the universe in 3D real time.
Star Chart - Augmented reality astronomy app for iPhone and Android. Point your device at the sky and Star Chart will tell you what you’re looking at.
SkyView - Much like Star Chart, but it has more information, and added features with Apple Watch sync.
Night Sky - Augmented reality, real-time viewing with pairing capabilities with iOS 10's Metal and Apple Watch. You can move it backwards and forwards in time to see how things looked and will look in any given time period.
GoSatWatch - Track satellites in real time and get 24-hour pass predictions plus dish orientation data for geostationary satellites.
Pocket Universe - Take a tour of the night sky, explore the solar system and take virtual walks on the moon and mars.
Clear Outside - Everything you need to know about viewing weather including cloud cover ratings and the chance of fog, rain, wind and frost.
If you enjoyed this article, share it! Be sure to listen to Kim's interview with Andrew Fraknoi in this article’s corresponding podcast. Want even more content? Get everything Komando.com has to offer by becoming an exclusive Kim’s Club member. It’s an all-access pass to all the exclusive content we produce … including Kim's private stash! And just a reminder that the sky may not be the limit after all. So keep your eyes open, looking up and learning!
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