“It is a beautiful and delightful sight to behold the body of the Moon.”
― Galileo Galilei
For centuries, the night sky has been a source of fascination, mystery and wonder.
When the golden sun slips under the horizon, deep blue, hazy violet, pitch onyx, and every shade of night gathers to paint the sky.
The distant glow of blinking starlight; the flash of a comet’s fiery tail; and the ethereal light of the snowy silver moon. These heavenly sights have inspired great poems, art, stories and dreams.
This year, 2019, marks a new chapter of brilliance in the night. A host of stellar astronomical events will sweep across the sky, in dazzling displays.
Supermoons, solar eclipses, lunar eclipses, a meteor shower and Mercury on the move. We will even have the chance to witness a NASA rocket launch to the International Space Station.
Mark your calendars… because for one night and one night only, these astral events will light up the sky.
Super Blood Wolf Moon
When: January 21st
People in North and South American, as well as Western Europe and Africa should have a good view of this spectacular event around 12:00 am ET.
What: A Supermoon, Lunar Eclipse, and Full Moon All At Once
Let’s break this down.
A Supermoon occurs when a Full Moon’s orbit is closest to the Earth. This makes the moon appear both larger and brighter.
So for a Supermoon to take place, the moon must be 1. Full and 2. At its Closest Approach to Earth.
For a Super Blood Moon to take place, there must also be a Lunar Eclipse. A Lunar Eclipse is only possible during a Full Moon.
A Total Lunar Eclipse is when the Earth is directly between the sun and moon, causing the moon to shine reddish brown because the only light it receives is reflected from the Earth (hence the name, blood moon).
January 21st all of these elements will align to create a Super Blood Wolf Moon. A very rare sight indeed.
But, wait… why is the word wolf included?
The answer is simply that the Full Moon in January is referred to as a Wolf Moon. Every month has a unique name of reference for full moons, and throughout the globe, the names vary.
Full Moon Names
Every culture has a different name of the full moon as it lights up the sky. Over the years, these have continued to change and evolve. Since the names of full moon often correlate to the seasons (often acting as markers for growing seasons of regions), names differ in the Northern and Southern hemispheres of the globe. Below is a list of common names given to the full moon of each month by Native American, Chinese and Celtic cultures (in that given order).
January 21st Wolf Moon, Holiday Moon, Quiet Moon
February 19th Snow Moon, Budding Moon, Moon of Ice
March 20th Worm Moon, Sleepy Moon, Moon of Winds
April 19th Pink Moon, Peony Moon, Growing Moon
May 18th Flower Moon, Dragon Moon, Bright Moon
June 17th Strawberry Moon, Lotus Moon, Moon of Horses
July 16th Buck Moon, Hungry Ghost Moon, Moon of Calming
August 15th Sturgeon Moon, Harvest Moon, Dispute Moon
September 14th Harvest Moon, Chrysanthemum Moon, Singing Moon
October 13th Hunter Moon, Kindly Moon, Harvest Moon
November 12th Beaver Moon, White Moon, Dark Moon
December 12th Cold Moon, Bitter Moon, Cold Moon
Phases of the Moon
There are eight phases of the moon that repeat each month as the moon orbits planet Earth. It takes the moon approximately 29.5 days to make one full orbit of our planet. These orbits are referred to as cycles. The lunar cycle begins with a New Moon void of light. During this phase, the sun does not illuminate any part of the moon, making it close to, or entirely invisible to the eye. After this phase, the moon slowly progresses to reveal crests of white that spread to cover more of the moon’s surface until it becomes a Full Moon. After that, the reverse takes place, and slowly less and less of the moon is illuminated until the cycle repeats again.
The eight phases are as follows: New Moon, Waxing Crescent, First Quarter, Waxing Gibbous, Full Moon, Waning Gibbous, Last Quarter, Waning Crescent.
Sometimes… there is also a Blue Moon.
A very rare occasion indeed, happening once every three years. A Blue Moon occurs when two Full Moons appear in the night sky within the same calendar month.
SuperMoons of 2019
When: February 19th & March 21st
If you happen to miss the Super Blood Wolf Moon that will illuminate the sky at the end of January, fret not. There are two more Supermoons set to shine in the following months.
Full Supermoon February 19th (of the three upcoming supermoons, February will host the biggest and brightest)
Full Supermoon March 21st
When: February 28th
Visit NASA’s official site to view launches and find out more about upcoming missions.
What: Expedition 59 Launch to the International Space Station.
NASA astronauts Christina Hammock Koch, and Nick Hague are scheduled to board the Soyuz spacecraft for a mission to the Space Station.
Aspiring astronaut prepare to be amazed!
Eta Aquariid Meteor Shower
When: May 6th
This meteor shower will be active throughout the month of May; however, its peak performance will be May 6th starting at 3:00am ET until dawn. Scientists expect to see as many as forty meteors fly through the sky each hour.
What: A Stream of Debris Left by Halley’s Comet Passing by Earth
Meteors can fly by at any time on any night. In fact, most nights when the moon is dark and the sky is clear, you might just see several or so meteors pass by streaks of midnight blue.
A Meteor Shower, happens when the debris of a comet sails pass the Earth.
There are a handful of Meteor Showers set to sparkle in the curtain of night all throughout the year. But the most impressive is sure to be the Eta Aquariid Meteor Shower.
The source of debris for this shower comes from non other than the famed Halley’s Comet (which visits our planet only once every 75 years).
Each year, the Earth passes the orbital path of Halley’s Comet, and the trail of stardust it leaves behind.
These left over bits and pieces become the Eta Aquariid Meteor Shower.
This shower will be dazzling and fast! A meteor a minute is promised at the peak of Eta Aquariid. Stargazers, get ready.
Other Meteor Showers of 2019
Lyrid, When: April 23rd
Delta Aquariid, When: July 29th
Perseid, When: August 13th
Orionid, When: October 22nd
Southern Taurid, When: November 5th
Leonid, When: November 18th
Geminid, When: December 14th
Ursid, When: December 23rd
Total Solar Eclipse
When: July 2nd
South America and South Asia are in for a treat! Between noon and 6:00pm on July 2nd, a total solar eclipse will occur around the South Pacific and the lower half of South American.
What: The Moon Completely Hides the Sun
Partial Lunar Eclipse
When: July 16th
On July 16th starting at 9:30pm UT in Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. South American will see the end of this eclipse as the moon begins to rise, but sadly, North America will miss out on this celestial event.
What: When the Moon Passes through Part of Earth’s Shadow
As it passes through our planet’s shadow (umbra) only part of the moon will grow dark, creating a Partial Lunar Eclipse.
Rare Transit of Mercury Across the Sun
When: November 11th
Beginning at 7:30pm on November 11th ET, Mercury will appear as a small black dot in front of the sun. This phenomena will last approximately five hours.
What: When Mercury passes in front of the Sun and becomes visible from Earth
A very rare and very tiny sight is coming this Fall.
The smallest planet in our solar system is making a grand entrance. Mercury only passes between the Sun and our planet thirteen times a century! This is not something you see every day. But unless you have super human sight, you’ll want to find a telescope for this event.
Annual Solar Eclipse
When: December 26th
Boxing Day shopping will simply have to wait. This stunning event will be visible over South Asia, so if Astronomy is your passion, you may want to plan a trip at the end of the year.
What: When the Sun Shines from Behind the Moon
Once again, the moon will hide the sun. One final spectacular solar eclipse will close the year of 2019.
If you plan on viewing this, or any other solar eclipse, enjoy but remember protect your eyes. Stare directly at a solar eclipse and your eyes are guaranteed injury.
Within the cosmic ocean of evening, the greatest shows of the galaxy will play. Their performances are sure to be a spellbinding treat.
Enjoy this magical Sky Full of Stars…