The Most Anticipated Astronomical Events of 2023

by | Jan 20, 2023

From meteor showers and ring of fire eclipses to planetary events, here’s a list of some of the most mesmerizing astronomical events of 2023, and when you can witness them.

Sky gazers will be treated with multiple stellar events this year, all set to illuminate the sky in a glorious fashion. Save this guide and mark your calendars to prepare yourself for some of the most intense astronomical occurrences of the year (meteor showers are my personal favorites).

WITNESS MERCURY IN ALL ITS GLORY

MERCURY AT GREATEST WESTERN ELONGATION: JAN. 30, MAY 29, SEPT. 22
MERCURY AT GREATEST EASTERN ELONGATION: APRIL 11, AUG. 10, DEC. 4
Melting glaciers pose a real threat for the environment and human life.

A colorful view of Mercury produced using images from the MESSENGER’s primary mission. The planet will not appear like this to you at its greatest elongation. | via NASA

As the planet closest to our Sun, Mercury is almost never visible, cloaked under the sheer brightness of the star. However, the planet does become visible for brief moments throughout the year, when it reaches its furthest point from the star in its orbit.

At its greatest western elongation, Mercury is visible in the east as a morning object before the Sun rises. On the other hand. it is visible as an evening object in the west after the Sun sets at its greatest eastern elongation.

The planet is observable for a few months each time it reaches the greatest elongation.

MARCH 1: VENUS AND JUPITER COME TOGETHER

Even though they will be separated by millions of miles, Venus and Jupiter will be seen playing tag in the western sky as the two planets will appear astonishingly close in the western sky. This is not the only planetary conjunction that Venus will serve a part of, as the planet will also appear with Saturn (January 22) and Neptune (February 15) this year.

APRIL 20: A HYBRID SOLAR ECLIPSE (ONE OF 7 THIS CENTURY)

You might be able to witness one very rare yet strange astronomical phenomenon this April. A combination of three types of solar eclipses, the hybrid solar eclipse is the rarest of all, shifting between different types as the Moon’s shadow moves across the globe.

MAY 7: ETA AQUARIDS METEOR SHOWER

One of the two meteor showers created by the debris from Halley’s Comet, the Eta Aquarids peaks during early May each year, with meteors traveling at nearly 150,000 miles per hour into Earth’s atmosphere.

The shower will be visible for both the Southern and Northern Hemispheres, although this year’s experience might be slightly faltered by a full moon. However, you might still be able to witness the shower during the pre-dawn hours.

AUGUST 13-14: PERSEID METEOR SHOWER

Melting glaciers pose a real threat for the environment and human life.

via Austin Human/Unsplash

Caused by the debris comprising of small bits of ice and rock left behind by Comet Swift-Tuttle – the largest object known to repeatedly pass by the Earth. The Perseids will be greeting residents of the Northern Hemisphere, coming from the direction of the constellation Perseus.

You can expect to see up to 100 meteors per hour as the shower reaches its peak, best experienced at the hours before dawn.

While the showers last year were affected by the illumination of the full moon, this year’s event will be a stellar extravaganza, with only 10% illumination at the time of the meteor shower’s peak.

AUGUST 27: SATURN OPPOSITION

Caused by the debris comprising of small bits of ice and rock left behind by Comet Swift-Tuttle – the largest object known to repeatedly pass by the Earth. The Perseids will be greeting residents of the Northern Hemisphere, coming from the direction of the constellation Perseus.

You can expect to see up to 100 meteors per hour as the shower reaches its peak, best experienced at the hours before dawn.

While the showers last year were affected by the illumination of the full moon, this year’s event will be a stellar extravaganza, with only 10% illumination at the time of the meteor shower’s peak.

AUGUST 31: THE SUPER BLUE MOON

bound to happen every few years. However, this year’s Blue Moon occurs at a time when it will also be the closest to Earth, making it a supermoon.

OCTOBER 14: A “RING OF FIRE” ECLIPSE

Melting glaciers pose a real threat for the environment and human life.

via Geoff Livingston/Flickr

Annular solar eclipses, commonly known as “ring of fire” eclipses occur as the Moon reaches farther away from the Earth in its orbit. The eclipse occurs when the Earth, the Moon, and the Sun are all aligned, but the moon can only partially cover the Sun due to its distance. As a fiery aura surrounds the black silhouette of the moon, the visual appears like something out of a comic book.

DECEMBER 13-14: GEMINIDS METEOR SHOWER

Melting glaciers pose a real threat for the environment and human life.

AI-generated digital art of a meteor shower. | via Akul Kumar/DALL.E

Typically the strongest meteor shower of the year, the Geminids are a result of comets, not asteroids (unlike several other meteor showers). According to the American Meteor Society, you could witness up to 150 meteors per hour. The Geminids peak around mid-December, and the moon will be at a mere 1% this time around, making it the perfect time to view them.

DECEMBER 21-22: URSIDS METEOR SHOWER

The Ursids are often overshadowed by the sheer majesty of the Geminids, along with the fact that they’re a strictly Northern Hemisphere event. With rates that rarely exceed 5 to 10 meteors per hour, they might not be putting on a show like the Geminids, but it is a fantastic way to end of Christmas if you’re at the right place.