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Do not miss these 5 astronomical events in 2019



From Brian ladaAccuWeather Meteorologist and Staff Writer
December 27, 2018 2:56:26 EST

The new year will bring several notable astronomical events that will be visible to many in the United States, including the rare celestial alignment, which will not be repeated until the 2030s.

In addition to these major events in 2019, three super moons, a blue moon, several meteor showers and dozens of missile launches from Cape Canaveral, Florida, will be presented.

Here are the five best astronomical events of 2019 that can be noted in the calendar:

January 20-21: The super-bloody moon eclipse will turn red on the United States

The most viewed astronomical event of the year will occur in mid-January, when the moon turns red during a total lunar eclipse.

This will be the only total lunar eclipse of the year, and it will be seen in the sky throughout North America and South America, as well as parts of Europe and Africa on the night of January 20 and early January. 21

When the moon passes through the shadow of the Earth, it gradually turns a rusty orange into a dark red color, which gives it the nickname “blood moon”.

eclipse of the bloody moon

A rare astronomical phenomenon in the form of "Super Blue Moon Blood" was observed on Santa Monica Beach in Santa Monica, California, on Wednesday, January 31, 2018. (AP Photo / Ringo H.W. Chiu)

The total eclipse, including the partial phases, will last between 9:36 pm. EST and 2:48 EST. However, the common phase, when the moon turns red, will last just over an hour, between 11:41 pm. EST and 12:43 EST.

This will be the last total lunar eclipse, visible anywhere in the world until May 26, 2021.

May 6-7: Comet Halley will ignite the Eta Aquarids meteor shower.

The peak of one of the best meteor showers of 2019 should reach the peak this spring, when Eta Aquarids will amaze viewers around the world.

"Every spring, when the Earth passes through traces of debris from comet Halley (1P / Halley), cosmic particles burn in our atmosphere and lead to the annual meteor shower Eta Aquarid," said NASA.

This meteor shower favors the Southern Hemisphere at a speed of up to 60 meteors per hour, but in the Northern Hemisphere you can still see up to 30 meteors per hour at its peak.


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While other meteor showers, such as the December Geminids, bring much more meteors per hour, this Aquaria will be one of the few torrents this year that falls on a new moon.

Meteor showers are best viewed on a new moon due to low levels of natural light pollution. This makes it easier to see dimmer meteors that cannot be seen during the bright full moon.

“Eta Aquarid meteors are known for their speed. These meteors are fast — they move at a speed of about 148,000 miles per hour (66 km / s) into the Earth’s atmosphere. Fast meteors can leave luminous “trains” (red-hot fragments after a meteor) that last from a few seconds to minutes, ”NASA said.

July 2 A total solar eclipse darkens the sky over South America.

The first total solar eclipse of the Great American Eclipse of 2017 will occur in July of this year, which will lead to a change of day for the night throughout the whole part of South America.

Most of the eclipse will occur over the unoccupied waters of the Pacific; however, it will be visible through a piece of Chile and Argentina.

In this small area, called the path of totality, the moon completely blocks the sun. The rest of South America can expect a partial solar eclipse.

total solar eclipse

A total solar eclipse blocked the sun in Tennessee on August 21, 2017. (AccuWeather Photo / Brian Lada)

The next total solar eclipse will occur no earlier than December 14, 2020, but will also be seen in parts of Chile and Argentina.

August 12-13: Perseids will strike summer stars

Each year, observers of stars mark the Perseid meteor shower in their calendars, the peak of which comes this year on the night of 12 on the early morning of August 13th.

"The Perseid meteor shower is often considered one of the best meteor showers in a year because of high rates and a pleasant temperature at the end of summer," said NASA.

This year will not be the best show for Perseid, as it falls right before the full moon; however, the meteors associated with Perseids are usually brighter than meteors from other meteor showers. This means that even with the light of an almost full moon, observers should still see the many falling stars.

“You don't need any special equipment to view Perseids — only your eyes (note that telescopes or binoculars are not recommended),” NASA said.

November 11: Mercury follows the Sun

The rare alignment of the planets will occur on November 11 and will be visible for most of the world, but only for those who have the appropriate equipment.

Mercury is usually difficult to find in the sky because of its close proximity to the Sun, but in November it will pass directly between the Earth and the Sun, appearing as a small black dot on the surface of the Sun.

This event, known as transit, does not happen often. Most recently, the transit of Mercury occurred on May 9, 2016, and it will not be repeated until November 13, 2032.

mercury transit

This composite image of observations by NASA and the ESA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory shows the path of Mercury during its transit in November 2006. (Solar and heliospheric observatory / NASA / ESA through AP)

It is extremely important that people use a solar filter to look at the sun in order to see this transit, as looking at the sun without proper protection can cause permanent eye damage.

People with solar filter glasses left over from the Great American Eclipse in 2017 can use them to see this rare event, but only if they have not been damaged.

“If the filters are not scratched, punctured or torn, you can use them endlessly. Some glasses / viewers are printed with warnings that you should not see them more than 3 minutes at a time, and that you should discard them if they are more than three years old. Such warnings are outdated and do not apply to eclipse viewers that meet the ISO 12312-2 standard adopted in 2015, ”NASA said.

Anyone who does not have a pair of sunglasses can order them online from a list of well-known suppliers and must order them weeks or months in advance, as they can be difficult to acquire as the event approaches.


2018 was a record year for extreme weather events and storms. Extreme meteorologist and Storm Chaser Reed Timmer told us about their 5 best races of the year. He discussed some of his most dangerous events, what it was like to be in the field, and moments that he would never forget!


Questions or comments? Email Brian Lada at Brian.Lada@accuweather.com and don't forget to follow him on Twitter!

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