Solar eclipse, ancient comet and ring of fire: the most interesting celestial events of 2024
The year 2024 will be an interesting one for amateur astronomers or those who just like to watch events in the Earth's sky. The most interesting, of course, will be the total solar eclipse in April, which, unfortunately, will not be visible from the territory of Ukraine. However, Ukrainians will also have something to admire.
The National Geographic magazine described nine of the most interesting astronomical events of the year. The return of comet C/2023 A3, which will approach the Earth for the first time in 80,000 years, maybe especially spectacular.
January 18: the celestial dance of Jupiter and the Moon
Already in the first month of the year, it will be possible to admire the combination of the Moon and Jupiter in the sky. The largest planet of the Solar System will dominate the evening sky on January 18, appearing next to the shining crescent moon. You will be able to observe this phenomenon with ordinary binoculars.
Those who find the weather spoiling their observations should not be upset as Jupiter and the Moon will meet again on February 14, March 13, and April 10.
It's worth noting that each of these conjunctions will be unique in its own way as the Moon will appear in different phases and orientations next to Jupiter.
April 8: total solar eclipse
The main celestial event of the year will be a total solar eclipse. Unfortunately, it will be visible only in North America. The total eclipse will be visible in four states of Mexico, 15 states of the United States, and five Canadian provinces in the east of the country. Ukrainians will be able to watch the phenomenon through online broadcasts only.
The total eclipse is projected to last from four minutes and 28 seconds to three and a half to four minutes, depending on the location of the observer.
April: giant comet 12P/Pons-Brooks
This true giant comet, which is three times larger than Everest, will be clearly visible from April 12.
In 2023, the cryovolcanic comet 12P/Pons-Brooks, consisting mainly of ice, dust, and gas, experienced several explosions and surprised astronomers with its increasing brightness.
Scientists expect it to gain a new acceleration in March when it will approach the Sun and be affected by the latter's gravitational influence.
In April, the comet will be visible to the naked eye immediately after sunset in the western sky. On April 12, the comet will fly past bright Jupiter, and nine days later, on April 21, Comet Pons-Brooks will reach its closest point to the Sun and may reach its peak brightness, providing one of the best opportunities to see it.
It will also be possible to observe the comet during the total solar eclipse on April 8 when it will appear close to the eclipsed Sun.
May 4: the peak of the Aeta Aquarid meteor shower
Scientists expect that in May, space conditions will be ideal for observing the Eta Aquarid meteor shower. The best view of the meteor shower will be in the pre-dawn hours of May 4.
Since the birthplace of some meteors will be in the constellation Aquarius, it will be best to observe it from the Southern Hemisphere. Here, 20 to 30 meteors per hour will be visible.
However, in the Northern Hemisphere, it will be possible to see from 10 to 20 meteors per hour in the pre-dawn hours of May 4.
August 12 and 13: the peak of the Perseid meteor shower
The Perseid meteor shower can produce up to 60 shooting stars per hour in a normal year. But 2024 promises to be a particularly favorable year for the Perseids as the peak of the shower will coincide with a dark, moonless sky.
It will be best visible late at night and in the predawn hours. The northern hemisphere is the most favorable for this meteor shower.
September and October: Comet C/2023 A3 (Jijinshan - ATLAS)
The appearance of this comet is expected to be a stunning spectacle at the end of 2024. It will be possible to observe it in the early summer in the evening sky with small telescopes.
But the most interesting part will be in September when the comet's orbit will bring it closer to the Sun and Earth for the first time in 80,000 years. Astronomers expect that it may become brighter and possibly visible through binoculars or even with the naked eye. You need to look for it low in the eastern sky before sunrise in southern latitudes.
If the comet survives its journey around the Sun, it will be best visible in the Northern Hemisphere around October 12.
September 17: Saturn and the Moon come closer together
The Moon and Saturn will approach each other four times starting on September 17. The stunning spectacle will also be visible to the naked eye on October 14 and 15, November 11, and December 8.
The best time to watch them is shortly after sunset.
October 2: a ring of fire in the sky
The second solar eclipse of 2024 will be visible in the Western Hemisphere. The path of the ring of fire will mostly cross the Pacific Ocean, limiting visibility from land to a few places.
Residents of Easter Island will be able to observe it for 6 minutes and 23 seconds.
The eclipse will also cover part of southern Chile and quickly move across the Andes to Argentina. The partial solar eclipse will be visible to millions of observers in most of southern South America.
December 4: meeting of Venus and the crescent moon
On the eve of Christmas and New Year's holidays, starry-eyed stargazers will be able to see the combination of the two brightest objects after the Sun: the Moon and Venus. The best time to watch is right after sunset on December 4.
Earlier, OBOZ.UA told you that there will be no more total solar eclipses in the future.