A ‘Super Blood Wolf Moon’ – better known as a total lunar eclipse during a supermoon – will be visible from the U.S. on January 20/21.
Most people don’t see and experience the most exciting astronomical events not because they don’t care, but because they don’t make a plan. So here’s some advance warning. 2019 will start with a rare ‘Super Blood Wolf Moon’ eclipse, but it’s only the first of many incredible stargazing events in 2019. From eclipses and comets to supermoons and a Transit of Mercury, here’s exactly when, where and why to look up at the night sky during 2019.
1 – Super Blood Wolf Moon Eclipse
When: Sunday/Monday, January 20/21, 2019
What a way to start a year of spectacular celestial sights. With Earth between the Sun and Moon, our satellite in its ‘full’ phase will turn a gorgeous red-orange-copper color for an hour or so during this Total Lunar Eclipse. Totality is at 9:12 p.m. PST on January 20 and 00:12 a.m. EST on January 21 from North America, but do look for the change from partial eclipse to total eclipse over the preceding hour or so. The event goes into reverse afterward. It’s visible on the night-side of Earth, which includes South America, the eastern Pacific Ocean, the western Atlantic Ocean, and extreme western Europe. It’s also a Supermoon (when the moon is closer to Earth than average, so appears slightly larger), and the last Total Lunar Eclipse visible from the U.S. until May 2021, so enjoy it while you can.
2 – Venus & Jupiter’s ‘double kiss’
When: Tuesday, January 22 & Sunday, November 24, 2019
Get up early the next day after the ‘Blood Moon’ to see a beautiful ‘conjunction’ – close pairing – of the planets Venus and Jupiter in the pre-dawn sky. They will be just 2.4 degrees apart in the eastern sky. Later in the year on November 24, there’s another chance when the two planets appear an even closer 1.4 degrees apart in the western sky just after sunset.
3 – A trio of Supermoons
When: Sunday/Monday, January 20/21, Tuesday, February 19, Thursday & March 21
Most folk think the term ‘supermoon’ applies only to a full moon, but actually, it’s all and only about how close the moon is to earth relative to its average distance. There are three supermoons in the first few months of 2019, of which this is the first. Will the full moon look bigger than usual? Probably not much, but catch it as it rises at dusk and it will look impressive pale orange as it appears behind buildings.
4 – The Milky Way & a meteor shower
When: Monday/Tuesday, May 6/7, 2019
There’s a distinct ‘Milky Way season’ when it comes to observing, and it begins in May when our galaxy appears as a band across the eastern night sky just after dusk. May 6/7 is also when the Eta Aquarids meteor shower peaks under a moonless sky, which could see as many as 60 shooting stars per hour. So it’s a fine evening to go out looking for both celestial sights.
5 – Jupiter reaches Opposition
When: Monday, June 10, 2019
Everyone knows Jupiter as the ‘giant planet’, but few realize that it’s so easy to see with some pretty basic tech. Put any pair of binoculars up to Jupiter and you can not only see the bright planet’s bands, but its four biggest moons, Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto around it in a line. They were first spotted by Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei through a small telescope in 1610. Today is the ‘best’ time to observe because Jupiter will be at its closest to Earth, so at its brightest.
6 – A rare Total Solar Eclipse
When: Tuesday, July 2, 2019
The highlight of 2019 for sure is a spectacular total solar eclipse, the first since one in the U.S. on August 21, 2017. This one will last for about 2 minutes 20 seconds when viewed from Chile’s Elqui Valley and Argentina – the key observing sites where most eclipse-chasers will head – though there will also be some cruise ships in the South Pacific around just north of the Pitcairn Islands. A Dreamliner will also attempt to ‘chase’ the moon’s shadow in an effort to prolong totality.
7 – The last Transit of Mercury until 2032
When: Monday, November 11, 2019
Probably the highlight of the year for astronomers, nature-lovers, eclipse-chasers and totality-addicts is this Transit of Mercury, the disk of Mercury appearing to cross the disk of the Sun as seen from Earth. It’s an event that happens only 13 times per century. Only transits of the inner planets Mercury and Venus are possible since the outer planets can only ever be seen from Earth to go behind, not in front of, the Sun. The next one is on November 13, 2032. It will be best viewed from the eastern U.S., Central America and South America.
8 – A spectacular ‘Ring of Fire’ eclipse
When: Thursday, December 26, 2019
Are you ready for a Ring of Fire? There’s no totality during this rare Annular Solar Eclipse because the moon is a ‘micro moon’, the furthest it gets from Earth, so appears small in the sky (the opposite to a supermoon). Instead, you get to see a fabulous ring around the moon. It’s the best kind of partial eclipse by far, but you do have to wear solar safety glasses to see anything, so it’s nowhere near as ‘good’ as a Total Solar Eclipse (and there’s no totality). You’ll also have to go to Saudi Arabia, Oman, southern India, northern Sri Lanka, the Indian Ocean, Singapore or Indonesia to see it.
Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes