December Meteor Squalls: Prospects for the 2019 Geminids and Ursids

2019 Geminids

December means chillier climes for northern hemisphere residents, a time to huddle inside near the campfire, both real and cyber. I’ve always thought this was a shame, as the cold crisp nights of winter also offer up sharp, clear skies. Over the past decade or so, December gives observers another reason to brave the cold: the Geminids.

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Our Guide to the November 11th, 2019 Transit of Mercury Across the Sun

One of the finest spectacles in astronomy is to witness the passage of one object in front of another. This can transpire as an eclipse, an occultation, or a rare event known as a planetary transit. We get a shot at seeing just such a singular event next Monday on November 11th, as a transit of Mercury across the face of Sol occurs for the last time this decade.

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Tracking Twilight: ‘Purple Sunset Effect’ Seen Worldwide

Has twilight looked at little… purple to you as of late? The ‘purple sunset’ effect is subtle, but currently noticeable on a clear evening. Sunsets are always colorful events, as the Sun’s rays shine through a thicker layer of the atmosphere at an oblique angle, scattering out at longer, redder wavelengths. When the air is clear and relatively dust free, this effect is at a minimum… but when the upper atmosphere becomes saturated with dust particles and aerosols, the sky can erupt in a panoply of colors at twilight.

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Our Guide to Saturn Opposition Season 2019

Saturn opposition season never disappoints. Slowly, one by one, the planets are returning to the dusk sky. In June, we had Jupiter reach opposition on June 10th. Now, although Mercury and Mars are fleeing the evening scene low to the west at dusk and Venus lingers low in the dawn, magnificent Saturn reaches opposition tonight on July 9th, rising to the east as the Sun sets to the west.

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Our Complete Guide to the July 2019 Total Solar Eclipse

This image combines many exposures of different durations taken to reveal aspects of the widely-viewed total solar eclipse of 21 August 2017, from the Moon, to the solar corona. Image credit: ESO/P. Horalek/Solar Winds Sherpas Project.

You couldn’t order up a geekier solar eclipse from the cosmos. Next Tuesday on July 2nd, the second of three eclipse seasons begins for 2019, with the only total solar eclipse of the year spanning the southern tip of South America, including the nations of Chile and Argentina. As an extra-special part of the spectacle, however, the path of totality for the eclipse passes right over the La Silla observatory complex in the Atacama Desert.

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