In 2019, there will be five eclipses, six meteor showers, three supermoons, Mercury passing across the Sun, and many other great observable astronomical events.
Here are the top 15 astronomy events of 2019 to look out for across the planet:
1. Quadrantids meteor shower – January 3
One of the best meteor showers of the year happens early. The Quadrantids meteor shower will be brief but there should be dark skies and so good visibility for shooting stars.
2. Partial solar eclipse – January 6
Still in the first week of the new year, there will be a partial solar eclipse – the moon passing between the Earth and the Sun.
Note though, this will be visible only from Northeast Asia and the North Pacific.
3. Super Blood Wolf Moon (total lunar eclipse) – January 20-21
This is likely to be the most-viewed astronomical event of the year since it will be visible to many with just the naked eye. Skywatchers will be able to witness the combination of three phenomena – the “blood moon”, the “supermoon”, and the “wolf moon”.
On this day, a total lunar eclipse will occur with the moon passing directly behind Earth and into its shadow. This results in a red coloring of the moon caused by the scattering of sunlight through the Earth’s atmosphere (the same effect that causes sunsets to appear red). This is what is known as a “blood moon”.
The moon will also be at its closest point to Earth, making it appear bigger and brighter than usual – this is what is referred to as a “supermoon.”
In addition, lunar eclipses can occur only during a full moon and the first full moon in January is known as a “wolf moon” – this astronomy event has the label the “Super Blood Wolf Moon.”
These will occur together on the night of 20 January and the early hours of 21 January 2019 – with it peaking just after midnight Eastern Time (US). It will be visible in North America, South America, Europe, and Africa and will be the last total lunar eclipse visible anywhere in the world until May 2021.
4. The largest super full moon of the year – February 19
There will be three super full moons in 2019. This is when the moon passes closer than usual to the Earth and therefore appears bigger than normal.
The largest will be on 19 February, when the moon will come within 222,000 miles of Earth.
5. Supermoon – March 21
The third supermoon of 2019 will take place on 21 March.
6. Eta Aquarids meteor shower – May 6
The Eta Aquarids meteor shower will be active from April 19 to May 26 but will peak night at around 3 am Eastern Time (US) on May 6.
It is expected to be one of the most visible meteor showers of the year because of the volume of shooting stars (estimated at up to 40 per hour) and the dark skies predicted on the night of May 6 due to the moon’s phase at that time.
The Eta Aquarids is an annual occurrence and is made up of the debris left behind by Halley’s Comet which flew by Earth in 1986.
7. Arietids meteor shower – June 7
The third major meteor shower of the year will be the Arietids Meteor Shower on June 7
8. Total solar eclipse – July 2
The only total solar eclipse for the year – where the moon blocks out the sun for a short period – occurs on July 2 and will be visible in South Asia and South America.
The next total solar eclipse visible in North America will take place in April 2024.
9. Lunar eclipse – July 16
A partial lunar eclipse will be visible in Africa, Europe, southern Asia, and Australia on July 16.
10. Perseid meteor shower – August 12-13
The annual Perseid meteor shower will peak this year on August 12 and 13.
Visibility won’t be perfect as it falls right before the full moon and therefore the skies will be lighter than is ideal.
11. The Orionids Meteor Shower – October 21
The Orionids Meteor Shower will be visible on 21 October 2019.
12. Mercury crosses the sun – November 11
In possibly the biggest astronomical event of 2019, Mercury will pass in front of the sun.
This will only happen 14 times this century and so is relatively rare. The last time was in 2016.
Mercury will appear as a small black dot across the face of the sun, but will only be viewable with a telescope and a solar filters (obviously, never look directly at the sun, especially through a telescope unless you have the correct safety gear).
The transit will take 5 and a half hours and will be visible from Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and North/South America on November 11.
13. The Andromedids meteor Shower – December 3
The Andromedids Meteor Shower will be visible on 3 December 2019.
14. The Ursids meteor shower – December 22
The Ursids meteor shower will be visible on 22 December 2019
15. Annular solar eclipse – December 26
Southeast Asia and North Africa will be able to view an annular eclipse for 3 minutes 40 seconds on 26 December 2016.
This is a “ring of fire” phenomenon and happens when the circumference of the sun shines brightly from behind the moon.
Best days to see the planets in 2019
Here are the best days to see the planets in 2019:
- Venus on January 6
- Mercury on February 27
- Jupiter on June 10
- Saturn on July 9
- Pluto on July 14
- Neptune on September 10
- Uranus on October 28
Milky Way season 2019
In the Northern Hemisphere (North America, Europe etc), the best time to view and photograph the Milky Way’s galactic core is from late April to late July, although it is visible from March to October.
In the Southern Hemisphere (South America, Australasia, Africa etc), the Milky Way’s core is visible from February to October, with June and July being the best months.
Vote! Which astronomical event in 2019 are you most looking forward to?
Further sources of information on the best astronomical events in 2019
- To learn more about celestial events taking place this year, check out these recommended resources:
- The International Meteor Organization has a thorough 2019 Meteor Shower Calendar which you can see here
- The website SeaSky has a great astronomical events calendar that goes way into the future – see it here
One of the best astrophotography apps PhotoPills have written a great overview of how to photograph 2019’s meteor showers
Lastly, many of the astronomical events in this article can be seen with the naked eye, but some may require astronomy binoculars or a telescope for best viewing.