Winter’s chill is gone, and spring has arrived. Nights are warmer, too — great for doing a little stargazing. So what should you look for? We’ve put together this handy list so you don’t miss the best celestial events for the rest of this year. We’ve got meteor showers, total solar eclipses, and close planetary pairings. Let’s get started!
April 29 – International Astronomy Day
Our first celestial event is a little more terrestrial in nature. International Astronomy Day is celebrated twice a year in the spring and fall. The first will be held on April 29, with the fall version on September 30. Sponsored by the Astronomical League, the effort aims to bring a host of astronomy-related events on a single day. Museums, planetariums, and observatories participate, and you can find an event near you by checking the Astronomical League’s website.
August 12/13 – Perseids Meteor Shower
Last year’s Perseids generated quite a bit of hype, and it pretty much lived up to expectations with peak rates of about 150-200 meteors per hour in spots. 2017 is likely to be a little bit more tame, as we once again pass through the dust trail left behind by Comet Swift-Tuttle. Even so, on an average year, 60 meteors per hour is easy to do, so it should still be quite the show. The bad news? It’s coming slightly before the New Moon, so some of the fainter meteors will be blocked out.
August 21 – Total Solar Eclipse
2017’s signature celestial event is the total solar eclipse of August 21, nicknamed the “Great American Solar Eclipse.” It gets its name from the prime track across the country around midday from Oregon to South Carolina. Every location in the lower 48 will see the sun at least 50% covered, with areas of totality seeing complete darkness for nearly 2 1/2 minutes! If you miss this, you’ll have to wait another seven years. Learn more about the event on Digital Trends’ Eclipse roundup here.
December 3 – Supermoon
Nothing got people more excited in 2016 than all those Supermoons, caused by two events happening at the same time: a New Moon and the moon at perigee (closest to earth). This only happens once in 2017, and during the last full moon of the year. It won’t be as large as last year’s super Supermoon, but it will appear much larger and brighter than normal.
December 13/14 – Geminids Meteor Shower
While the Perseids wow us — from time to time — with bigger events, its the Geminids Meteor Shower that’s consistently good. Up to 120 meteors per hour can be seen at its peak, and even in less than prime conditions (like this year’s waning crescent moon) you’ll still see quite a few. We suggest finding a dark spot, and looking toward the constellation Gemini to catch the show.