Whether you casually enjoy looking at the night sky, are an amateur astronomer with your own telescope, or fall somewhere in between, you won’t want to miss a number of celestial events this year. In 2022, you’ll be able to see everything from lunar eclipses and supermoons to meteor showers and planetary alignments.
Let’s get right to it. Here are the 10 amazing stargazing events to put on your 2022 calendar.
1. Mars, Venus, And Saturn In Alignment
Just before dawn on March 27–29, Mars, Venus, and Saturn will form a small triangle near the moon. In fact, they will appear so close, you’ll be able to see them together in the same field of view if you’re using a telescope or binoculars, Accuweather explains.
Furthermore, you can keep watching the planets in early April. Mars and Saturn will appear very close in the predawn hours on April 4 and 5. Venus won’t quite be as close, but it will still appear nearby.
2. Lyrid Meteor Shower Peaks
April is Global Astronomy Month, which means you can celebrate that and the Lyrid meteor shower at the same time.
Named after the constellation Lyra because that’s where the streaking meteors appear to emanate, the Lyrid meteor shower occurs each year in April when Earth passes through the debris trail of a comet called C/1861 G1 Thatcher, discovered on April 5, 1861. The comet, by the way, takes 415 years to orbit the sun.
The Lyrid meteor shower will be visible from April 16 to 25, but its peak will be the night of April 22 and the early hours of April 23. While light from the moon may make it difficult to see some of the fainter meteors, there should still be a good show anyway, Sea and Sky explains.
3. Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower Peaks
The Eta Aquarid meteor shower occurs each year when Earth passes through the debris left in space by Comet Halley, which takes about 76 years to orbit the sun. Once again, the meteor shower gets its name from the constellation where the meteors appear to emanate. In this case, the meteor shower is named after Eta Aquarii, the brightest star in the constellation Aquarius.
In the Northern Hemisphere, you can expect to see approximately 30 meteors per hour, Sea and Sky explains. The best time to look for the meteor shower will be after midnight.
4. Total Lunar Eclipse/Blood Moon
During the night of May 15 and into the morning of the 16, the entire continental U.S. will be able to see the moon turn “red” during the first lunar eclipse of 2022.
“The moon does not have any light of its own — it shines because its surface reflects sunlight,” Time and Date explains. “During a total lunar eclipse, the Earth moves between the sun and the moon and cuts off the moon’s light supply. When this happens, the surface of the moon takes on a reddish glow instead of going completely dark.”
This red color prompts many people to refer to a total lunar eclipse as a Blood Moon.
5. First Supermoon Of 2022
There will be three supermoons in 2022, and the first is June’s full moon — known as the Strawberry Moon. It gets its Strawberry Moon name from the Algonquin, Ojibwe, Dakota, and Lakota peoples because this full moon occurs around the time strawberries are harvested in the northeast U.S., The Old Farmer’s Almanac explains.
Here’s why it’s called a supermoon. Since the moon has an elliptical orbit, there are times when it is closer to Earth than others. The point on the moon’s orbit when it is closest to Earth is called the perigee. When the moon is full during its perigee, it’s called a supermoon because it appears 30 percent brighter and 14 percent larger than other full moons, Time and Date explains.
You can see the other two supermoons on July 13 and August 12.
6. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, And Saturn In Alignment
Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn will all be in alignment before sunrise on June 24.
What’s even better is that they all will be bright enough to be seen with the naked eye. Adding to the rarity, the moon will also be in line, between Venus and Mars.
It should be noted that the planets won’t physically line up in the solar system, it will just appear that way from Earth.
7. Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks
The Perseid meteor shower, which NASA calls the “best meteor shower of the year,” occurs each August when Earth passes through debris left by a comet named 109P/Swift-Tuttle, which was discovered in 1862 independently by both Lewis Swift and Horace Tuttle. The Perseids are named after the constellation Perseus.
While you can see the Perseid meteor shower from July 17 to August 24, it will peak this year on the night of August 12 and the morning of August 13. During the peak, the shower may produce up to 60 meteors per hour.
Unfortunately, light from August’s full moon may make it difficult to see some of the meteors, but the brightest meteors will still be visible.
8. Total Lunar Eclipse/Blood Moon
The second, and final, total lunar eclipse of 2022 will take place before sunrise on November 8.
If you’re on the East Coast, you’ll miss the total phase of the eclipse because the moon will set just prior. Stargazers in the rest of the U.S., including Hawaii and Alaska, and those in Canada, will be able to watch the total eclipse, however.
Interestingly, the next total lunar eclipse visible from North America won’t occur until March 14, 2025.
9. Mars In Opposition
Mars, the fourth planet from the sun, has a blood-red color because its surface is covered in dust and rock high in iron. As the iron minerals oxidize, or rust, they become red, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology explains.
The red planet will be brighter in early December as it nears opposition. That’s when Mars will be at its closest approach to Earth but it will be on the opposite side of Earth than the sun, which means its face will be fully illuminated by the sun. As a result, Mars will be brighter than the stars, and it will also shine all night. Mars will be at its brightest on December 8.
Don’t miss this chance to view Mars. Opposition only occurs every 26 months, so Mars won’t reach opposition again until January 15, 2025, according to Accuweather.
10. Geminid Meteor Shower Peaks
The Geminid meteor shower is considered one of the best meteor showers of the year — neck and neck with the Perseids — because it begins an hour or two after sunset and lasts all night.
Each year in December, the Earth passes through the meteoroids left by an asteroid named 3200 Phaethon, which creates the Geminid meteor shower. The shower gets its name from the constellation Gemini.
While the meteor shower will be visible from December 7 to 17, it will peak this year on the night of December 13 and morning of the 14. Although there may be as many as 100 meteors per hour, light from the nearly full moon will make some difficult to see. The good news, however, is that the meteor shower has a high number of bright meteors, which means many will still be easy to see.
While you’re thinking about it, be sure to read the rest of our stargazing content, especially: