It often brings me great pleasure to stare at the night sky and observe the subtle movements; the shift of the clouds, the twinkling of the stars, and the clouds shrouding some stars or the moon for a while. I still remember when I was much younger and was stargazing one night, my grandpa pointed out to me the various constellations. As the night sky bustles with activity, we realize the magnitude and greatness of the cosmos and how minuscule we are in front of the grand mechanism of the universe. We are like a speck of dust in this cosmos and while observing the sky we can understand how fortunate we are as a species to be able to observe and understand the universe, however little. This article is for all astronomy enthusiasts, star gazers, and dreamers who love observing the sky. 2023 certainly holds its fair share of celestial delights.
Meteor Showers: A meteor shower is when several meteors or shooting stars flash across the night sky, seemingly from the same point. They may be called shooting stars, but they have nothing to do with stars. These small space particles are meteoroids and are literally celestial debris.
The meteor showers of the year are as follows:
January 3, 4 - Quadrantids Meteor Shower
April 22, 23 - Lyrid Meteor Shower
May 6, 7 - Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower
July 28, 29 - Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower
August 12, 13 - Perseids Meteor Shower
October 7 - Draconids Meteor Shower
October 21, 22 - Orionids Meteor Shower
November 4, 5 - Taurids Meteor Shower
November 17, 18 - Leonids Meteor Shower
December 13, 14 - Geminids Meteor Shower
December 21, 22 - Ursids Meteor Shower
Jan 11- First New Moon of The Year: Each month, when the moon is located on the same side of the Earth as the Sun, it is not visible in the night sky. This phenomenon is referred to as New Moon. This is the ideal time to view stars and planets through your telescope as there is moonlight to hinder your view. Use this interactive night sky map to find out which planets are best visible at which time and date. The New Moon dates in India for the rest of the year are 10th February, 10th March, 8th April, 8th May, 6th June, 6th July, 4th August, 3rd September, 3rd October, 1st November, and 1st December.
Jan 25 - Wolf Moon: It is the first full moon of the month. Earlier, the first full moon of the year was referred to as the Wolf Moon by Native American tribes because this was the time of year when hungry wolf packs howled outside their camps. This moon has also been known as the Old Moon and the Moon After Yule. The other full-moon nights in India are 24th February, 25th March, 24th April, 23rd May, 22nd June, 21st July, 19th August, 18th September, 17th October, 16th November, and 15th December.
Feb 9 - Super New Moon: When the Full Moon or New Moon occurs near the Moon's closest approach to Earth, its perigee, it is often called a Supermoon, During Super New Moon, the Moon will come between the Sun and the Earth, and the illuminated side of the Moon will face away from the Earth. This is the best time for night sky watching. There are a total of three Super New Moons this year with the other two dates being 10th March and 8th April.
March 20 - March Equinox: 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.
Mar 22 - Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks
Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks is just a month away from reaching perihelion, its closest point to the Sun. There's a chance that the comet could be seen without the aid of a telescope, and it might even be visible during the total solar eclipse on April 8.
Mar 24/25 - Penumbral Lunar Eclipse
A penumbral lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes through the Earth's partial shadow or penumbra. During this type of eclipse, the Moon will darken slightly but not completely. The eclipse will be visible throughout all of Asia and Australia and parts of eastern Europe and eastern Africa.
May 4/5 - Earthshine Mornings
Earthshine is a dull glow that lights up the unlit part of the Moon because the Sun’s light reflects off the Earth's surface and back onto the Moon. The Waxing and Waning Crescent Moon phases in April and May are the best time to see Earthshine, where the unlit part of the Moon becomes visible. It is also known as Da Vinci Glow.
June 20 - June Solstice: The June solstice will occur when 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.
Aug 28 - Comet Tsuchinshan-ATLAS
Comet A3 (Tsuchinshan-ATLAS)—which was discovered at the beginning of 2023—is 30 days from perihelion, its closest point to the Sun. There is a chance it will become a naked-eye object, although comets are famously unpredictable.
Oct 2 - Annular Solar Eclipse
An annular solar eclipse happens when the Moon moves in a straight line between the Earth and the Sun, but doesn't fully block the Sun's surface. Instead, it obscures most of the Sun, revealing its outer rim as a shining circle or annulus around the shadowed Moon.
December 21 - December Solstice: The December solstice will occur at 02:50 IST. 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.
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