What to Expect from the Night Sky in 2016

 

Since the beginning of recorded history, humans have been looking into the sky for answers about their world and the cosmos beyond their reach. Today, the night sky can tell us the future of the universe and our Milky Way galaxy. So, get out your telescope for upcoming events that will make their mark on the heavens.

March 23rd, Penumbral Lunar Eclipse

Visible from eastern Asia, eastern Australia, the Pacific Ocean, and the west coast of North America, the Penumbral Lunar Eclipse involves the moon pushing through the Earth’s partial shadow or penumbra, which causes it to slightly darken.

April 22nd, 23rd, Lyrids Meteor Shower

The Lyrids Meteor Shower is made up of dust particles left behind from Thatcher, a comet discovered in 1861. For best visibility, astronomy experts recommend finding a dark location after midnight. You can expect about 20 meteors per hour at the climax of this medium-sized meteor shower.

May 6th, 7th, Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower

July 28th, 2061 is the next time Halley’s Comet will be visible from Earth, but its meteors made from leftover dust particles can be seen starting in April and peaking in early May. This above average shower lights up the sky with up to 60 meteors per hour.

May 21st, Blue Moon

A blue moon only happens every couple of years, giving way to the expression “once in a blue moon.” The spectacular event is marked by the face of the moon being fully illuminated by the Sun, which is located at the opposite side of the Earth. Also called the Full Flower Moon by Native Americans, this rare phenomenon will happen at 21:15 UTC.

August 12th, 13th, Perseids Meteor Shower

This striking night show starts on July 17th and lasts until August 24th. Then on August 12th, the waxing moon will set just after midnight, which allows excellent viewing in a dark sky. During this time, the meteor will peak at 60 shooting stars per hour and continuing the following night. Produced from stardust leftover from comet Swift-Tuttle, the meteor shower will emanate from the constellation Perseus.

November 4th, 5th Taurids Meteor Shower

Although this minor meteor shower produces only 5-10 shooting stars per hour, its two separate streams make it a unique event in the cosmos. One stream comes from the dust of Asteroid 2004 T G10 and the second from Encke, a comet that was discovered in 1786 by Johann Franz Encke and Pierre Mechain.

December 13th, 14th Germinids Meteor Shower

With 120 shooting stars illuminating the night sky at its pinnacle, the Germinids Meteor Shower is one of the most impressive meteor showers of the year thanks to debris left behind from the comet 3200 Phaethon that was discovered in 1982.

As you can see, the cosmos is going to be very busy in 2016, so grab your best viewing gear and head out into the night. And remember, we are all made of stars.

Resources

http://www.seasky.org/astronomy/astronomy-calendar-2016.html