Tonight's Sky

January 2020 Highlights.

Moon  Phase – Date

First Quarter Friday 3rd
Full Moon Saturday 11th
Third Quarter Friday 17th
New Moon Saturday 25th

This month the Moon will be at apogee (furthest from Earth) on Thursday 2nd at 404,580 km and perigee (closest to Earth) on Thursday 14th at 365,958 km.


Mercury will be very low in the southwest at evening setting soon after sunset.

Venus, ‘the evening star’, is still bright in the west setting by midnight.

Mars is faint and low in the eastern morning sky.

Jupiter has gone from evening skies but will rise before sunrise in the east by end of the month.

Saturn is too close to the sun and not visible.


The month’s most active shower, the Quadrantids, is a Northern Hemisphere shower   peaking on the 4th resulting from Asteroid 2003 EH1 (likely an extinct comet), or possibly from the active Comet 96P/Machholtz that orbits the sun every 6 years. In the Southern Hemisphere is Eta Carinids active from 14th–27th with typically faint meteors of only 2 or 3 per hour at its peak on the 21st. This shower is centred near the faint star Eta Carina located near the Southern Cross. It is high in the south midnight to dawn, an ideal time for meteor observing.

Stars & Constellations

High up directly east is Sirius, the brightest star at night in Canis Major (Greater Dog) while Orionthe hunter, is in the north-east easily located by the three bright stars that form his belt. In Australia, the belt is the base of the Saucepan while its handle (the sword of Orion) contains a spectacular nebula that is the birthplace of new stars. Above the Saucepan is the blue supergiant star Rigel and below is the red supergiant star Betelgeuse.

To the left of Orion in the north-east is Taurus, the Bull, with the red giant star Aldebaran. Further to the north-east is the beautiful Pleiades Cluster (Seven Sisters) a group of blue giant stars that in many cultures represents a group of women.

In the Boorong tradition of north-west Victoria, Sirius is the head of Warepil the wedge-tailed eagle. The Saucepan or centre of Orion is Kulkunbulla, two young men dancing, and Taurus’s head is the songman Gellarlac who through song passes on his knowledge, while the nearby Pleiades is Larnankurk who beats out the rhythm with her drum.

The Andromeda galaxy is low in the northern sky this month appearing as a small fuzzy patch. At 2 million light years it is the most distant object visible with the unaided eye, but best seen away from light polluted areas.

The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, two of our nearest galaxies at 160,000 light years and 200,000 light years, are high in the southern sky. Away from city lights, they appear as two fuzzy patches or ‘clouds’. For the Boorong they are the campfires of the Nurrumbunguttias, the ancient lawgivers who created everything on the land and guard over the country and all it contains.

International Space Station

ISS orbits every 90 minutes at an average distance of 400km appearing like a bright star moving slowly across the night sky. This month most passes over Melbourne are during daylight hours, but here are two visible passes expected over Melbourne and Central Victoria:

  • Saturday 4th 9:48pm-9:54pm NorthWest to SouthEast
  • Wednesday 29th 4:41am-4:44am WestNorthWest to SouthEast

For predictions go to

On this day

1st 1801Ceres was discovered by Giuseppi Piazzi; thought first to be a planet, then an asteroid, and now a minor planet.

1st 2019New Horizons probe (USA) made its 3,500 km close fly-by of Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69, a twin-lobed contact binary dubbed ‘Ultima Thule’ now formally named Arrokoth.

2nd 1959, first detection of solar wind by Luna 1 (USSR) as it passed the moon.

4th 1958, the first satellite, Sputnik (USSR), fell back into the atmosphere and disintegrated after 11 weeks in orbit.

4th 1959, first human-made object enters heliocentric orbit, Luna 1 (USSR).

4th 1643, birth of Isaac Newton famous for studies in optics, the reflecting telescope, laws of gravitation and motion, and co-creator of calculus.

5th 2005, discovery of the most massive and second largest dwarf planet, Eris at 2,300 km diameter, by team led by Mike Brown at Palomar Observatory.

7th 1610, Galileo’s discovery of Jupiter’s four largest moons IoEuropaCallisto and Ganymede supports the heliocentric (sun-centred) theory of the solar system.

8th 1942, birth of Stephen Hawking, Cambridge University theoretical physicist, cosmologist, science celebrity.

9th 1992, first exoplanets are found orbiting a pulsar 2300 light years away in Virgo.

11th 1787, discovery of Uranus’s two largest moons Titania (diameter 1576km) and Oberon (1522km) by William Herschel. Both are tidally locked to Uranus.

14th 2005, ESA’s Hygens probe is first to land on an outer solar system body, Saturn’s moon Titan (5148km) revealing dunes,  methane/ethane seas, wind and weather.

15th 1980, Alan Guth’s inflation theory first released solving issues with the big bang theory and the ‘horizon problem’ (why the universe looks similar in every direction).

16th 1969, first docking in space and first crew exchange in space between Soyuz 4 and Soyuz 5 (USSR) in Earth orbit.

18th 1916, meteorite falls onto occupied house in Baxter, Missouri (USA).

19th 2006New Horizons probe (USA) was launched on a 9-year trip to its 2015 12,500km fly-by of Pluto followed by an extended mission into the Kuiper Belt.

23rd 2003, final communication with Pioneer 10 (USA), first interplanetary probe to Jupiter, which later left the solar system.

25th 2006, first icy-rocky planet discovered orbiting a main sequence star, a red dwarf at 21,500 light years from Earth.

27th 1967, fire in Apollo 1 (USA) command module kills crew of three in ground test at Kennedy Space Centre causing program delay and complete overhaul of spacecraft and safety systems.

28th 1986, space shuttle Challenger (USA), the 10th shuttle flight, explodes 73 seconds after lift-off killing all seven crew and halting the program for 32 months.

31st 1961, first hominid in space, chimpanzee Ham, in Mercury-Redstone 2 (USA), who survived and lived in zoos until 1983.

31st 1958, discovery by James Van Allen of radiation belts of charged particles from the Sun that surround Earth and which now bear his name.

31st 1958Explorer 1 the first successful American satellite launch, and first satellite to carry instruments into space.

   Your Guide To The Southern Skies.

The Milky Way is a vast white streak across the vault of the sky. Aussie & New Zealand stargazers will find that it contains features unique to viewers in the southern hemisphere.

Sights like the Southern Cross, Coal Sack and Jewel Box twinkle only here. And the upside-down outlook means that constellations can appear quite different from the shapes for which they were named. With this article we take a N.Z. perspective but it all relates to Australia as well. All the footage (above) was taken in Western Australia from the Pinnacles to Nanup and Mullalyup. Australian Skies from Paul Pichugin on Vimeo.

Southern hemisphere skies offer dazzling spectacles for night viewing, some of which cannot be seen from the northern hemisphere. Clear skies are usual over much of New Zealand, and it is possible to get fine views of the Milky Way and its neighbouring galaxies, the Magellanic Clouds. The most recognisable constellation (pattern of stars) in the sky is the Southern Cross, along with its associated features, the Jewel Box and Coal Sack.

Many of the sights that are visible from the northern hemisphere can also be seen from New Zealand. The constellations of Orion and Scorpius are prominent at certain times of the year. However, New Zealand is too far south to see Polaris, the pole star, or the Great Bear (Ursa Major).

The changing night sky

As the sun sets and darkness descends, a number of different features become visible in the sky: the moon, thousands of stars, sometimes one or more planets, faint hazy patches of light and dusty dark regions. Our view of the sky changes over the course of a single night. Some stars appear to rise in the east and set in the west, while others are visible throughout the evening, but seem to circle clockwise around a common point. It is not the stars that are moving during the night, but the viewer: as the earth spins on its axis, different parts of the sky come into view.

Our view of the sky also changes during the course of a year. As the earth orbits the sun, new regions of the sky become visible from one season to the next.

An upside-down view

Northern hemisphere observers consider New Zealanders to have an upside-down view of the sky. People standing in each hemisphere are upside down in respect to each other, and have an inverted view of the same object out in space. For this reason it is difficult for southern hemisphere viewers to pick out the shapes for which many constellations were named.

Southern stars

Coalsack-ESO-B06Life and death of stars

Stars are great spheres of intensely hot gas that are undergoing nuclear reactions (similar to those in hydrogen bombs). Stars form in vast clouds of gas and dust known as nebulae, and have a long lifespan – a few million to tens of billions of years – before they exhaust their supply of fuel. The largest stars are about 120 times the mass of the sun, and are known as supergiants. The smallest, known as red dwarfs, are about one-tenth the sun’s mass. The manner in which stars die depends on their size. The products of many star deaths are also known as nebulae, for they are also great clouds of gas and dust, but in this case ejected from the periphery of an exploding star.

The Southern Cross

Visible year round from New Zealand, the Southern Cross constellation (Crux) and its associates the Pointers are among the brightest stars in the southern sky. Four bright stars form the ends of an imaginary cross with a long axis and short crossbar. The long axis always points in the direction of the South Celestial Pole, and for this reason it serves as a night-time navigational aid.

The Coal Sack and Jewel Box

Along the eastern edge of the Southern Cross is a dark region called the Coal Sack nebula. It is a star nursery, where young stars are forming from dense clouds of glowing gas and dust compressed under intense gravitational force. Just above the Coal Sack and alongside the second brightest star of the Southern Cross is the Jewel Box, a colourful cluster of about 50 stars that can be seen with a telescope.

Easy as ABC

The ABC is a useful way of remembering the defining stars of the southern hemisphere: A is for Alpha Centauri, B is Beta Centauri, and C is the cross.

The Pointers

The Centaurus constellation lies to the east of the Southern Cross. Its two brightest stars, Alpha and Beta Centauri, are commonly known as the Pointers, because an imaginary line between the two stars points towards the cross.

Alpha Centauri appears as the third brightest star in the night sky, after Sirius and Canopus. It shines with a yellow light, and is not a single star, but a triple star system. Two stars orbit around each other every 80 years and both are visible with a good telescope. The third star lies far beyond them, and is so small and faint that it was only discovered in 1915. This is Proxima Centauri, the closest star to our sun at only 4.22 light years away. It appears to orbit the other two stars every 500,000 years.

Beta Centauri, the 11th brightest star, shines with a blue-white light. It is the nearest of the pointers to the Southern Cross, and is 526 light years from earth. It is a double star system, consisting of two giant stars about 15 times bigger than the sun.

Getting to Grips With Your New Telescope.

New Scope

Amateur astronomers set up their telescopes at dusk.CORBIS

Were you lucky enough to get a new telescope for Christmas? If so, I’m guessing that if you’re reading this then you may be getting annoyed that you can’t see anything through it. Or you may still have to unwrap the thing, daunted by the astronomical learning curve that lies ahead. In nearby galaxy M82, a star is exploding … and you can see it! M82 is actually filled with stars being created and dying.

Using a telescope for the first time isn’t always as easy as it sounds, but fear not! This Discovery News “Telescope Primer” will get you started so you can not only enjoy ‘first light,’ but also get your new ‘scope ready for searching out countless wonders in the night sky.

Which Telescope?

First things first, what kind of telescope is it? Take a look down the open end and you will either see 1) a lens, 2) a lens and a mirror or, 3) just a mirror. If it’s either of the first two then you can skip the next bit.

If you have a telescope with just mirrors (3) then you have a reflecting telescope and you will need to check its collimation! Oh no! I hear you cry. But don’t panic! It’s not as scary as it sounds; collimation just means you need to check the mirrors to see if they are all aligned properly. If they are not then you will not get the best image.

Rough collimation can be done during the day but more accurate alignment needs to be done with a star. Details of performing collimation are quite lengthy but I have a good description on my website so head over there to check yours. Assuming you have now collimated your reflecting telescope then the rest is now the same whatever telescope you have.

Stay Focused and Centered

The next thing you need to do is get the focus in roughly the right place. If you fail to do this, it becomes a “chicken and egg situation”: you can’t focus on a star at night because you cannot find one and you cannot find one because you are out of focus! Take your telescope out during the day and point it at a tree or chimney a long way off in the distance; the further the better.

Now place a low-power eyepiece in the telescope and adjust the focus until it is nice and sharp. Re-center the object in the eyepiece and now take a look through the finder telescope (the small telescope on the side). You will probably notice that the object you were looking at through the main telescope is not in the center of the telescope. Adjust the screw on the side of the finder telescope to bring the object in the center.

You are aiming to have it simultaneously in the center of the main telescope and the finder telescope. Doing this will greatly aide finding things at night. Now that you are roughly focused, and your finder telescope is aligned, you are ready to wait until nightfall. If you can, it is best to leave your telescope outside as night falls so it cools down with the dropping air temperature, this prevents condensation (dew) forming on the optics.

Once night falls, it should simply be a case of lining up the finder telescope on your target and getting it nicely centered. A good tip here is to get down low and sight along the edge of the telescope tube to line up roughly. Then it should be visible within the finder telescope or at least, very close to it. Move it to the center and hey presto! you should have the target in the field of view of the main telescope.

If you have more than one eyepiece, try swapping for a higher power eyepiece. You will find the atmospheric conditions need to be pretty good for higher powered eyepieces so there will only be a few nights where you can use the higher power, and you will have to rely on low to medium power eyepieces for the other nights.

If you follow these simple steps then I guarantee you will not only be able to find objects in the night sky but line up your telescope to get a closer look. You will be amazed at the views that even a small beginners telescope will show you so get out there and enjoy the Cosmos.

Ten Ways To Appreciate The Night Sky

Anything you may find of interest in life takes on greater meaning and may keep your attention longer if you take steps to appreciate it more. This is easily said of interest in the night sky – whether you want to call it amateur astronomy or simply loving the stars above. Here are 10 suggestions to go from a casual interest to calling yourself a dedicated observer.

1. Learn the constellations Evening star charts for each month of the year are readily found in astronomy magazines available at the news-stand, as well as in books we sell on this webpage. Becoming familiar with the patterns among the stars helps you to organize the heavens. Also become acquainted with the phases and motions of the moon and planets.

2. Read Learn about the universe. There are many good books available, as well as magazine articles and websites. Find out what astronomers have found out there, and the theories that have developed and are continually tested as mankind finds out more. There seem to be more questions than answers, which helps keep us going. Be inspired and learn how you can have a look for yourself – for free, and hopefully as close as your backyard.

3. Keep a journal A “stargazing log” of some kind helps you keep track of what you observed, and when. Depending on how far you’d like to go with it, you can keep the dates, hours, descriptions, sketches and impressions of the celestial phenomena that you discovered. Enrich your time by looking up more information about what you just chronicled.

4. Keep warm! You’ll last longer out there if you are dressed for the cold night air; it doesn’t take long to feel cold standing outside! If you use a telescope, find a way to look through it with as little strain as possible.

5. Adapt eyes Have your eyes adapted for the dark. It takes about 10 minutes or so to see the stars well after coming out from a bright house. It can help to let your eyes adjust for a few minutes in a partially lit room. Hint: If you plan to look at the moon in a telescope and also some stars, look at the stars first. Once you train your telescope at the bright moon, you will lose any dark adaptation that you had. A lunar filter fitted to the eyepiece helps.

6. Clubs Get to know others of similar interest. Visit an astaronomy club or planetarium. They sometimes have public observing sessions scheduled.

7. Equipment Before buying a telescope, try binoculars. You will always find them useful, and for some uses, they are better to use than a telescope. When buying a telescope, it may be wise to start small, and get advice from others who have experience. A poor-quality telescope might discourage some, or spur you on to greater. Remember: You don’t have to take a second job to afford astronomy. You can enjoy the sky FREE OF CHARGE – with eyes alone. Sooner or later, however, you’ll likely want a closer look!

8. Picking site Find a suitable location. Observe from an area that is safe, with a wide-open sky and shielded from neighboring lights. Do the best you can with what you have. Even from a city, you have good views of the moon and bright planets.

9. See it all Take it all in – look for meteors, the moon, planets, star clusters, galaxies and satellites, and more.

10. Patience Lastly, have a humble spirit, a patient heart and a good imagination. Rember, little in the sky will appear to happen quickly, and you will frequently be “clouded out.” Let yourself be inspired and filled with awe!

Moon Facts


There are many interesting facts about the moon and trivia that may or may not be important to you. Some interesting facts include:

  • We all know there was a man on the moon, but did you know that there is one who stayed there? Dr. Eugene Shoemaker, a Geological Surveyor, who educated the Apollo mission astronauts about craters, never made it into space himself, but it had always been one of his dreams. He was rejected as an astronaut because of medical problems. After he died, his ashes were placed on board the Lunar Prospector spacecraft on January 6, 1999, which was crashed into a crater on the moon on July 31, 1999. The mission was to discover if there was water on the moon at the time, but it also served to fulfill Dr Shoemaker’s last wish.
  • When Neil Armstrong took that first historical step and said “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” it would not have occurred to anyone that the step he took in the dust of the moon was there to stay. It will be there for millions of years because there is no wind on the moon. That is, assuming the downdraft from the Command Module upon takeoff back into space didn’t destroy the print. Buzz Aldrin reportedly saw the American flag, much further away, blow over during launch. Nevertheless, any footprints made by the famous astronauts undisturbed by takeoff are, in fact, there to stay.
  • When Alan Sheppard was on the moon, he hit a golf ball and drove it 2,400 feet, nearly one half a mile.0
  • In a survey conducted in 1988, 13% of those surveyed believed that the moon is made of cheese.
  • The multi layer space suits worn by the astronauts to the moon weighed 180 pounds on earth, but thirty pounds on the moon due to the lower gravity.
  • How close can you get without completely running out of gas? Apollo 11 had only 20 seconds of fuel left when they landed on the moon.
  • Apollo 15 was the first mission to use a lunar rover. The top speed that was ever recorded in this 4-wheeled land vehicle was 10.56 miles per hour.
  • It is possible to have a month without a full moon. This occurs in February, but either January or March will have two moons.
  • In China, the dark shadows that are on the moon are called “the toad in the moon”.
  • The Apollo missions brought back 2196 rock samples weighing 382 kg in total

Facts About the Moon

  • The moon is not a planet, but a satellite of the Earth.
  • The surface area of the moon is 14,658,000 square miles or 9.4 billion acres
  • Only 59% of the moon’s surface is visible from earth.
  • The moon rotates at 10 miles per hour compared to the earth’s rotation of 1000 miles per hour.
  • When a month has two full moons, the second full moon is called a blue moon. Another definition of a blue moon is the third full moon in any season (quarter of year) containing 4 total full moons.
  • From Earth, we always see the same side of the moon; the other side is always hidden.
  • The dark spots we see on the moon that create the image of the man in the moon are actually craters filled with basalt, which is a very dense material.
  • The moon is the only extraterrestrial body that has ever been visited by humans. It is also the only body that has had samples taken from it.
  • The first space craft to send back pictures from the moon was Luna 3 (built by the Soviet Union) in October 1959.
  • The moon has no global magnetic field.
  • The moon is about 1/4 the size of the Earth.

There are plenty of exciting sky watching events coming up in the coming year that should excite amateurs and professionals alike. We’ll be sure to remind you before the most noteworthy events, but mark your calendars so you can plan ahead and keep your eyes on the skies throughout 2014! Even if you don’t have a telescope, many of these can be seen with the naked eye or a good pair of binoculars.


2-3 – Quadrantids Meteor Shower peak – The shower will be visible from January first through the fifth, it peaks overnight on the 2nd and into the morning of the 3rd, with about 40 sightings per hour. These should be very easy to see, because the moon will not be present to wash the meteors out. The meteors will appear to be originating from the constellation Bootes.

5 – Jupiter at Opposition – This is the best day of the year to view Jupiter, as it makes it’s closest approach to Earth and will be fully reflecting light from the sun. There will also be plenty of light reflecting off of its four largest moons: Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. These will be visible on both sides of the planet.


20 – Asteroid takes out star – Okay, so the asteroid doesn’t really take out a star (because we all know who would win that fight), but it will pass in front of it and make it disappear from view. The asteroid 163 Erigone is 45 miles wide and will pass in front of Regulus, a star in the Leo constellation. For about 12 seconds, the asteroid’s shadow will completely obscure the star. This is a very rare occurrence and unfortunately very few will get the opportunity to see it. The center of the path will begin in New York City and it will move up into Ontario.


8 – Mars at Opposition – As Mars makes its closest approach of the year on this date, this is the best time to observe it. Details of the Martian surface will be visible with a telescope using magnification 80-100x. Binoculars will enhance the color, but a medium telescope (about 5-8 inches) is needed to see details. Higher powered telescopes may even be able to see the polar ice caps.

15 – Total Lunar Eclipse – The full moon will be completely caught in Earth’s shadow, known as its umbra. At the onset of the eclipse, the moon will gradually appear to become a rusty red color. Astronomers in North and South America will have the best view of the eclipse, which is expected to last nearly 80 minutes.

22-23 – Lyrids Meteor Shower Peak – The remnants of C/1861 G1 Thatcher appear to us in the form of the Lyrids meteor shower. Though they will be visible between the 16th and 25th, they peak overnight on the 22nd with up to 20 meteors per hour. Unfortunately, the light from the second quarter moon will wash out some of the meteors, but the brightest ones should be visible. These meteors have the potential to be very dusty with bright tails that seem to hang in the air.

28-29 – Ring of Fire Eclipse – This partial solar eclipse will produce a “ring of fire” effect as the moon blocks out much of the sun’s light. Unfortunately, the best view of this phenomenon will be over an uninhabited region of Antarctica.


5-6 – Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower Peak – This shower is composed of dusty remnants of the famed Halley’s Comet. The long-running shower is visible from April 19th until May 28, but peaks overnight on May 5th with up to 60 sightings per hour. The first quarter moon should set right around midnight local time, which will really improve conditions for spotting meteors. Though the meteors can appear anywhere in the sky, it will appear that they are coming from the Aquarius constellation.

10 – Saturn at Opposition – Saturn will make its closest approach of the year and will be reflecting plenty of the sun’s light, making this the best opportunity to spot it. A medium telescope (about 5-8 inches) is needed to see the rings and some of the largest moons which will also be lit up from the sun.

24 – Meteor Shower – Before sunrise on the 24th, there could be a great number of meteors which are remnants of the comet P/209 LINEAR. The shower will be relatively short lived, but there is the potential for up to 100 sightings per hour.


7 – Mars and Moon Conjuncture – Just after sunset, Mars will be only a couple degrees away from our moon in the Western sky. This conjunction will be visible into the early morning hours.


28-29 – Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower Peak – This meteor shower is the remnants of two different comets. Though it runs from July 12 through August 23, it will peak overnight on July 28th with up to 20 sightings per hour. The meteors will appear to come from the Aquarius constellation.


10 – Supermoon – This will be the closest full moon of 2014, though it won’t appear much larger than any other full moon to the naked an untrained eye.

12-13 – Perseids Meteor Shower Peak – These meteors are leftovers from Swift-Tuttle comet and are a favorite among many skywatchers. The shower can be visible from July 17th through August 24th, and will peak overnight on August 12th at 60 sightings per hour. Unfortunately, the light from the moon will wash out many of the meteors, though the brightest should still be visible.

18 – Jupiter and Venus Conjuncture – Venus and Jupiter are the brightest planets in the sky and will be 0.25 degrees away from one another, which is less than the width of the moon. They will be best viewed before sunrise.

29 – Neptune at Opposition – The eighth planet will make its closest approach and will be reflecting plenty of sunlight on this day. Those with large, high powered telescopes may be able to see some details of this amazing planet, though it will appear only as a blue speck to everyone else.


7 – Uranus at Opposition – Uranus will make its closest approach and will be reflecting plenty of sunlight on this day. Those with large, high powered telescopes may be able to see some details of this amazing planet, though it will appear only as a teal speck to everyone else.

8 – Total Lunar Eclipse – The second total lunar eclipse of the year will last about one hour and will be most visible to those on the western side of North America, as well as the easternmost parts of Asia and Australia. Africa and Europe will not be able to view the rusty red umbra at all.

8-9 – Draconids Meteor Shower Peak – This shower spans from October 6-10, though it will peak overnight on the 8th with up to 10 meteors per hour. Though it is a small shower anyway, it will be especially tough to observe this year because of the light from full moon. However, if you are already out observing the lunar eclipse, it might be possible to see some of the brightest meteors. They will appear as if they are originating from the Draco constellation.

19 – Mars/Comet Near Miss – The recently-discovered Comet C/2013 A1, commonly known as Sliding Spring, will be making an exceedingly close approach with our planetary neighbor. NASA’s Near-Earth Object Office has estimated that it will be only 68,000 miles (110,000 kilometers) away from the red planet, which is roughly one-third of the distance from the Earth to the moon. There is currently a 1 in 8000 chance of it striking the surface, which means that our rovers and orbiters should be completely safe.

22-23 – Orionids Meteor Shower Peak – This shower is made up of remnants from the famed Halley’s Comet and spans from October 2 through November 7. It will peak overnight on the 22nd with up to 20 sightings per hour. Because it is the night before the New Moon, 2014 is an excellent year to view this shower. The meteors will appear to be originating from the Orion constellation.

23 – Partial Solar Eclipse – This partial solar eclipse will be visible throughout North America, as well as the easternmost parts of Russia.


5-6 – Taurids Meteor Shower Peak – Though the Taurids is a small shower, it has an extremely long span from September 7th through December 10th. It will peak overnight on the 5th with about 10 sightings per hour. Unfortunately, the light from the moon will wash out most of the meteors, but the brightest ones may still be visible. The meteors will appear to originate from the Taurus constellation.

17-18 – Leonids Meteor Shower Peak – The Leonids ranges from November 6th through the 30th, though it will peak overnight on the 17th with about 15 sightings per hour. The moon isn’t expected to wash out many of the meteors, so it should be fairly visible. In 2001, the Leonids produced hundreds of sightings per hour, but we aren’t expected to see that kind of show again until 2034. The shower will appear to originate from the constellation Leo.


13-14 – Geminids Meteor Shower Peak – The Geminids is a perennial favorite among skywatchers. It spans from December 7th through the 17th, but will peak overnight on the 13th with up to 120 sightings per hour. The meteors will appear multicolored, which gives an added bonus to the already spectacular show. Though the moon will wash out some of the meteors, they should be bright and plentiful enough to still be very visible. These meteors will appear to originate from the Gemini constellation.

24-25 – Ursids Meteor Shower Peak – The last meteor shower of the year will span from the 17th through the 25th, though it will peak overnight on the 22nd with about 10 sightings per hour. Because the shower’s peak coincides with the new moon, it should be a great time to view the meteors and close up a fantastic year of skywatching. These meteors will appear to originate from the Ursa Minor constellation

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