Sun-Earth Days 2013

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Goddard Space Flight Center

Sun-Earth Days 2013

This Year's Celestial Events

  • January 3, 4 - Quadrantids Meteor Shower. The Quadrantids are an above average shower, with up to 40 meteors per hour at their peak. The shower usually peaks on January 3 & 4, but some meteors can be visible from January 1 - 5. The near last quarter moon will hide many of the fainter meteors with its glare. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Look for meteors radiating from the constellation Bootes.
  • March 20 - March Equinox. The March equinox occurs at 11:02 UTC. The Sun will shine directly on the equator and there will be nearly equal amounts of day and night throughout the world. This is also the first day of spring (vernal equinox) in the northern hemisphere and the first day of fall (autumnal equinox) in the southern hemisphere.
  • April 21, 22 - Lyrids Meteor Shower. The Lyrids are an average shower, usually producing about 20 meteors per hour at their peak. These meteors can produce bright dust trails that last for several seconds. The shower usually peaks on April 21 & 22, although some meteors can be visible from April 16 - 25. The gibbous moon could be a problem this year, hiding many of the fainter meteors in its glare. It will set before sunrise, providing a short window of dark skies. Look for meteors radiating from the constellation of Lyra after midnight.
  • April 25 - Partial Lunar Eclipse. The eclipse will be visible throughout most of Africa, Europe, Asia, and Australia.)
  • April 28 - Saturn at Opposition. The ringed planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. This is the best time to view and photograph Saturn and its moons.
  • May 5, 6 - Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower. The Eta Aquarids are a light shower, usually producing about 10 meteors per hour at their peak. The shower's peak usually occurs on May 5 & 6, however viewing should be good on any morning from May 4 - 7. The crescent moon will hang around for the show, but should not cause too many problems. The radiant point for this shower will be in the constellation Aquarius. Best viewing is usually to the east after midnight, far from city lights.
  • May 10 - Annular Solar Eclipse. The path of annularity will begin in western Australia and move east across the central Pacific Ocean.
  • May 28 - Conjunction of Venus and Jupiter. The two bright planets will be within 1 degree of each other in the evening sky. The planet Mercury will also will also be visible nearby. Look to the west near sunset.
  • May 25 - Penumbral Lunar Eclipse. The eclipse will be visible throughout most of North America, South America, western Europe, and western Africa.
  • June 21 - June Solstice. The June solstice occurs at 05:04 UTC. The North Pole of the earth will be tilted toward the Sun, which will have reached its northernmost position in the sky and will be directly over the Tropic of Cancer at 23.44 degrees north latitude. This is the first day of summer (summer solstice) in the northern hemisphere and the first day of winter (winter solstice) in the southern hemisphere.
  • July 28, 29 - Southern Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower. The Delta Aquarids can produce about 20 meteors per hour at their peak. The shower usually peaks on July 28 & 29, but some meteors can also be seen from July 18 - August 18. The radiant point for this shower will be in the constellation Aquarius. The last quarter moon will be around for the show and may hide some of the fainter meteors. Best viewing is usually to the east after midnight.
  • August 12, 13 - Perseids Meteor Shower. The Perseids is one of the best meteor showers to observe, producing up to 60 meteors per hour at their peak. The shower's peak usually occurs on August 13 & 14, but you may be able to see some meteors any time from July 23 - August 22. The radiant point for this shower will be in the constellation Perseus. The near first quarter moon will set before midnight, leaving optimal conditions and dark skies for what should be an awesome show. Find a location far from city lights and look to the northeast after midnight.
  • August 27 - Neptune at Opposition. The blue planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. This is the best time to view Neptune. Due to its distance, it will only appear as a tiny blue dot in all but the most powerful telescopes.
  • September 22 - September Equinox. The September equinox occurs at 20:44 UTC. The Sun will shine directly on the equator and there will be nearly equal amounts of day and night throughout the world. This is also the first day of fall (autumnal equinox) in the northern hemisphere and the first day of spring (vernal equinox) in the southern hemisphere.
  • October 3 - Uranus at Opposition. The blue-green planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. This is the best time to view Uranus. Due to its distance, it will only appear as a tiny blue-green dot in all but the most powerful telescopes.
  • October 18 - Penumbral Lunar Eclipse. The eclipse will be visible throughout most of the world except for Australia and extreme eastern Siberia.
  • October 21, 22 - Orionids Meteor Shower. The Orionids is an average shower producing about 20 meteors per hour at their peak. This shower usually peaks on the 21st, but it is highly irregular. A good show could be experienced on any morning from October 20 - 24, and some meteors may be seen any time from October 17 - 25. The gibbous moon will be a problem this year, hiding all but the brightest meteors with its glare. Best viewing will be to the east after midnight. Be sure to find a dark location far from city lights.
  • November 3 - Hybrid Solar Eclipse. The eclipse path will begin in the Atlantic Ocean off the eastern coast of the United States and move east across the Atlantic and across central Africa
  • November 17, 18 - Leonids Meteor Shower. The Leonids is one of the better meteor showers to observe, producing an average of 40 meteors per hour at their peak. The shower itself has a cyclic peak year every 33 years where hundreds of meteors can be seen each hour. The last of these occurred in 2001. The shower usually peaks on November 17 & 18, but you may see some meteors from November 13 - 20. The full moon will prevent this from being a great show this year, but with up to 40 meteors per hour possible, this could still be a good show. Look for the shower radiating from the constellation Leo after midnight.
  • Thanksgiving timeframe- ISON Comet- a newly discovered comet, expected for a spectacular flyover The comet Ison, a chunk of ice and rock hurtling toward the sun from out somewhere near Jupiter, could be the brightest in living memory. Ison was discovered back in September, when a team of Russian astronomers spotted a faint blur in the vicinity of the Gemini and Cancer constellations, and confirmed by sifting through images from the past year. It likely broke free from the Ort cloud, a field of endless bits of rock and ice leftover from the formation of planets.
  • December 21 - December Solstice. The December solstice occurs at 17:11 UTC. The South Pole of the earth will be tilted toward the Sun, which will have reached its southernmost position in the sky and will be directly over the Tropic of Capricorn at 23.44 degrees south latitude. This is the first day of winter (winter solstice) in the northern hemisphere and the first day of summer (summer solstice) in the southern hemisphere.

NASA Fact

Earth's climate was seriously chilled during the Maunder Minimum (1645-1715) when no 11-year sunspot cycles were detected.