The Island Sky for 2019

2019 is looking to be a pretty ordinary year for events, with a few decent events to look forward to. The highlights will be a sunset total lunar eclipse on January 20th, the η-Aquariids meteor shower in early May, a transit of Mercury in November, and a nice set of planetary conjunctions in the sunset and sunrise.

Awaiting dark with the 20" telescope
Andrew Unger beside the 20″ Obsession while waiting for properly dark skies at Kaʻohe

There are dozens of posts scheduled here on DarkerView to remind my readers of these and many more events before they occur. Frankly, I need the reminder myself. Stay tuned for all of the great events the sky of 2019 will offer us.

The remainder of this post is a quick summary of the events our sky has to offer in 2019.

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The Sky for 2016

Looking ahead to sharing a fun and pretty 2016 with everyone. As usual you can come to Darker View for heads up on everything happening in the sky for 2016. I have spent the last month setting up pre-scheduled posts with all of the significant sky events for the year. We have a couple interesting eclipses, including a total eclipse across the Pacific, and some nice conjunctions. Comet C/2013 US10 Catalina continues to be naked eye into January and C/2013 X1 PanSTARRS should be marginally naked eye in June.

Young Moon
A very young moon over Waikoloa, this is only 26 hours after new, visible to the unaided eye as a sliver in the fading glow of sunset
Setting up all of the scheduled astronomy posts for the year allows me an excellent overview of what the coming year will bring. As I go though the schedules I have assembled a summary here to give my readers a preview of the year and to allow advance planning.

The Moon

Below are tables of all of the new and full moons of 2016 for those who prefer to plan early for those observing outings. Eclipses are noted with an asterisk in the tables and are explored more fully in the following section.

For those who like supermoons you will have to wait for later in the year when the orbit and lunar phase align. November will be the best supermoon of the year when full moon occurs only two hours away from perigee on the 14th of the month. For a few months either side of the November full moon you will find perigee occurring within a day or two of full, allowing for larger and brighter than average full moons.
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The Sky for 2014

What is happening in the sky this year?

There are no exceptional sky events expected in 2014. A pair of good lunar eclipses, a decent Mars opposition, the usual meteor showers, and no bright comets predicted. There is one odd meteor shower that might provide some fireworks in May mentioned below. Otherwise there is always the possibility of a new discovery, a nova or supernova, or a new comet. For now this looks to be a routine year for sky watchers.

Mars during the 2005 opposition
Mars during the 2005 opposition


Venus is as always a fun planet to follow through the year. The brilliant morning or evening star is always notable when it passes other bright objects such as the Moon or Jupiter. In April and May Venus will pass both ice giants, Uranus and Neptune with under a degree of separation. In August it will be Jupiter, passing about 35′ away on August 14th. The approach will be even closer if you are able to observe the pair during daylight hours, closing to 12′ at 08:06HST on the 14th.

Mars will pass through opposition on April 8th this year. This is a relatively good viewing opportunity with the red planet appearing just over 15″ in size. Close approach will be a week later, on April 14th. On September 27th Mars will pass about 3° from Antares.

Jupiter and Saturn continue to be well separated in the sky. This results in one or the other being available for observation much of the year. We start with Jupiter in the evening sky until early July. Saturn is currently in the early morning sky, passing through opposition May 10th and available for observation in the evening sky for the latter half of the year.

Minor Planets

The minor planets Ceres and Vesta are quite close all year. So close they will experience opposition in the same week. The dance will take place with the constellation Virgo as the backdrop. 4 Vesta will pass through opposition on April 13th, only two days later 1 Ceres will do the same on the 15th. At the same time the planet Mars will be just a few degrees south of the pair, going through opposition on April 8th. I wonder if the astrologers have noticed this? If so I am sure they will attach some ridiculous speculations to the event. They do not usually pay attention to the minor planets.

Lunar Eclipse 28Aug2007
Total lunar eclipse, photo is a 8sec exposure with a Canon 20Da on a 90mm f/12 APO


There are two solar eclipses and two lunar eclipses for 2014. An odd annular solar eclipse will be visible from Antarctica and Australia on April 29th. A deep partial solar eclipse will be visible across much of western North America on October 23rd. Neither will be visible from the islands.

The two lunar eclipses are more interesting. Both total eclipses will feature good magnitudes and the eclipses will both be visible in their entirety from Hawai’i. Better yet, the first eclipse will begin soon after sunset, providing an excellent viewing opportunity for outreach. Occurring on April 14th and October 7th, these will be the highlight of the year for eclipse aficionados.

Meteor Showers

2014 offers an interesting year for meteor watchers. Of the three most reliable showers it is the Quadrantids that will be seen to best effect in 2014, untroubled by moonlight. The Geminids will be partly obscured, while the Perseids will peak quite close to full Moon.

In addition to the traditional showers there are predictions for a new shower associated with Comet 209P LINEAR. In late May this debris stream may produce a strong, or even storm level meteor shower. Watch here for more information on this possible event.


While no spectacular comets are predicted for 2014 there are several decent comets available for telescopic observing or photography. Late summer and into early autumn look for comet C/2012 K1 PanSTARRS to peak around magnitude 6.

As usual you should keep tuned to Darker View for timely reminders of upcoming celestial events. Over a hundred posts are already entered and waiting for the appropriate date to pop up here, reminding you and I to keep looking up.

Looking Ahead to a Starry 2013

I am a bit behind in entry of all the significant astronomical events for 2013. Never fear! Everything important has been entered for January, so I am still ahead of the posting schedule! A few more evenings of blogging and I will have the whole year done.

Comet C/2011 W3 Lovejoy
Comet C/2011 W3 Lovejoy photographed by space station commander Dan Burbank
The year promises to be a great one for astronomy. While the highlight of 2012 was the Transit of Venus, for 2013 it will be comets! We have two comets of interest coming into the inner solar system. The first will show up in mid-spring, comet C/2011 L4 PanSTARRS will most likely be a naked eye object in the spring, with a predicted peak of 0 magnitude around March.

While C/2011 L4 PanSTARRS is a good comet, comet C/2012 S1 ISON is likely to be a great comet. This comet will pass incredibly close to the Sun and reasonably close to the Earth. If we get lucky, and luck is a significant factor with comets, this could be the comet of a lifetime. Predictions for this comet indicate a possible magnitude well into the negative numbers during November and December. These sort of numbers indicate the comet may be visible in the daytime, and spectacular after sunset. Unlike comet C2006 P1 McNaught in early 2007, this comet will favor viewers in the northern hemisphere!

e Moon, Venus and Aldebaran
The Moon, Venus and Aldebaran join up for an evening conjunction
There is a great conjunction of Mercury, Venus and Jupiter to take place just above the sunset in May and June. Take the three brightest planets and put them within a few degrees of each other, sometimes closer as the dance progresses. It should be a very photogenic event with the backdrop of sunset color.

No great eclipses this year. There are no total lunar eclipses to be seen anywhere, just a partial and two minor penumbrals. An annular solar eclipse visible in the South Pacific that will be visible as a modest partial solar eclipse here in Hawai’i. A hybrid solar eclipse will be visible across the Atlantic and central Africa.

Meteor showers are a mixed situation for the year, some good news, some bad. We will be able to observe the Persieds in a dark sky after the setting of a waxing crescent Moon. The Leonids will occur during full Moon, but are not predicted to be great this year. The Geminids also occur during a full Moon, damping this reliable shower.

2013 will be a great year for watching the sky. Stay tuned to Darker View for alerts on any significant event occurring overhead.