Amateur astronomers, mark your calendars, because this year has a lot in store: meteor showers, a “ring of fire” eclipse, a super blue moon and more.
LEILA FADEL, HOST:
Stunning meteor showers, a super blue moon and a ring of fire eclipse – 2023 has a lot of celestial wonder in store.
DWANE BROWN, HOST:
Astronomer Jackie Faherty works at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. She says the first things to look for are what she calls naked-eye planets – planets you can actually see without a telescope.
JACKIE FAHERTY: By January 22, what you’ll get to see is – Venus is getting particularly close to Saturn, which is super fun to see ’cause they’re bright objects. They move different than the stars. And then on March 1, you’ll see Venus is kind of closed in on Jupiter, and they’re very close to each other. That’s a good one to look for, the planets meeting each other in the sky.
FADEL: In August, we can see a blue moon, which isn’t blue. It just refers to the second full moon in a calendar month.
FAHERTY: So this saying that oh, it only happens once in a blue moon – but actually, it’s not rare at all. Blue moons happen every 2 1/2 years.
BROWN: A bright moon can be mesmerizing, but some of the most memorable astronomical events are easier to see when the moon is not full.
FAHERTY: Anywhere that’s got, like, a lot of light pollution, the moon still shines through. But when you want to see darker things, the moon – you want it to go away.
FADEL: When the moon is hidden, it makes it easier to view cosmic events like meteor showers. The Perseids are due in August and the Geminids in December.
FAHERTY: The meteor showers are great for just, like, equitable observing because all you really need is open sky. But even in cities, you can find yourself a clearing somewhere. You can find yourself on a rooftop, maybe. You can find yourself in the middle of a park.
FADEL: Coming up in the fall, there will also be a partial solar eclipse.
FAHERTY: We also call that the ring of fire eclipse because while the moon doesn’t fully cover the sun, it leaves this ring around where the moon would be that, if you look at it, looks super cool.
BROWN: And, yeah, for a total solar eclipse, you’ll have to wait until next year. NASA already has a countdown going for the big day – April 8, 2024.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “RING OF FIRE”)
JOHNNY CASH: (Singing) I fell into a burning ring of fire. I went down, down, down.
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