The 6 Best Skywatching Events Of 2014
In terms of skywatching, 2013 was definitely the year of Comet ISON. The headline-grabbing comet was all anyone could talk about throughout the latter part of the year, but will 2014 serve up any noteworthy skywatching events to rival the comet that flew too close to the sun? Here's our guide to the 5 best skywatching events of the year:
Mars To Loom Large In Our Skies - April 14-15
Overnight on April 14th, Mars will be at its closest point to Earth since 2008 creating a spectacular chance for skywatchers to get up-close and personal with our red neighbor. At just 57.4 million miles away, Mars will look more like a fiery red star than the faint dot we normally see. This could prove to be a very special day for some skywatchers because just a few hours after the Mars peak, they'll be treated to another exciting event in the sky.....
Total Lunar Eclipse - April 15
In the early morning (3am EST) of April 15th, skywatchers should drag themselves back out of bed to witness the first total lunar eclipse over North America in over 3 years. Yes, Skywatchers in the U.S and Canada are expected to have the best view of this mesmerizing event, which will transform from its usual icy blue into a sun-kissed, fiery red.
Dazzlingly Bright Meteor Shower - May 23-24
Skywatchers could be treated to an exceptionally bright meteor shower on the night on May 23/24 if, as scientists expect, the Earth crosses through the dusty trails of Comet LINEAR. Should such an event happen, it could see hundreds of shooting stars littering our skies for a brief but beautiful display of cosmic interactions. This may well be the event of the year, so stay tuned in the spring for the latest forecasts.
Venus and Jupiter Come Together - August 18
In the wee small hours of August 18th, skywatchers will be treated to a coming together of two of our sky's brightest objects. The two bright planets are often separated by more than 500 million miles, but on August 18th they will appear to be just two thirds of a moon's apparent width apart.
Total Lunar Eclipse (pt.2) - October 8
Did we say that a total lunar eclipse was a rare event? This October 8th edition of Moon reddening is expected to be best viewed from the Western coast of the US as well as vast swathes of Pacific countries including New Zealand and Australia. For one glorious hour the moon will be eclipsed, but for those with eagle-eyes and a good telescope or binoculars, the real treat will be spotting the green hue of Uranus somewhere over the darkened moon.
Partial Solar Eclipse - October 23
Large parts of North America will be treated to the sight of around 50% of the sun's visible face being covered by the moon. Northwestern areas of North America will see the largest darkening with Vancouver and Seattle witnessing around 60% of the Sun briefly disappear, while Eastern lying states and provinces will see around 30-15% of the sun eclipsed just as it starts to set.
Now all you need is a beautiful Celestron PowerSeeker Telescope. If only there was a way for you to get one for free.....