8 Captivating Celestial Events to Witness in 2024
The total solar eclipse, the partial solar eclipse, meteor showers to both the total and partial lunar eclipse have displayed the mysteries of the universe to skywatchers over the years. These celestial occurrences have had viewers abandon their homes, comfort, and sleep sometimes to witness the rare, strange but beautiful happenings in the cosmic atmosphere. We experienced just too many in 2023.
It’s a new year and there are more celestial mysteries to uncover. Brace yourself as we take you through a line-up of cosmic events for 2024.
Total Solar Eclipse
Viewers along the 115-mile-wide path of totality will experience the darkening of the sky in the midafternoon of April 8, 2024, as the moon will get in the way of the sun and cast its shadow on Earth. The solar eclipse likely occurs at specific locations every 375 years. Yes! This is how rare this celestial event is. The last time London experienced a total solar eclipse was on August 11, 1999. However, the lower 48 states of America last witnessed a total solar eclipse in 2017. The sun’s disappearance is expected to last for 4 minutes at most on April 8, 2024.
Jeff Rich, an astronomer and outreach coordinator at the Carnegie Observatories is always amazed at the nature of the total solar eclipse and said “It’s an event unlike anything else that you will ever witness. …It’s a real surreal feeling.”
Lyrids Meteor Shower
Right after the total solar eclipse on April 8, stargazers would be blessed with the privilege of viewing the Lyrids meteor shower. These meteor showers take place when the Earth makes a transit through rubbles left behind by a comet or asteroid. The debris burns up as it enters the Earth and leaves dazzling marks in the sky.
These showers are to be witnessed on April 22 but unfortunately, a full moon on April 23 might get in the way of viewing, Smithsonian Magazine writes.
NASA further recommends viewing to be done away from the “radiant because the meteors will appear longer and more spectacular from this perspective.”
Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower
Just like the Lyrids meteor shower, the Eta aquarid shower is experienced after the earth passes through the debris left behind by a comet, specifically Comet Halley. It is, however, active each year between April and May. This year, the streak of brightness will be seen across the sky on the dawn of May 6, 2024.
According to NASA, the aquarid meteors travel at about 148,000 miles per hour through the Earth’s atmosphere. The best way to view and enjoy is to be away from city lights.
Persied Meteor Shower
An event to look out for is the Perseid meteor shower. You can’t miss the fusion of shining meteors and the calm temperatures of August in the night sky. NASA projects that if in good conditions, about 50 to 100 shooting stars will appear across the night sky per hour on August 12 and the dawn of August 13.
Partial Lunar Eclipse
The partial lunar eclipse is very familiar to everybody in the world in terms of how often it occurs. On this note, skywatchers from Europe, North and South America as well as Africa will experience the partial lunar eclipse. It will start at 10:12 pm EST on September 17 and at 3:12 am GMT on September 18. A part of the moon passing through the Earth’s shadow is what brings about the partial lunar eclipse.
The Wonder of Comet Tsuchinshan
The Tsuchinshan-ATLAS is passing close to the earth in October 2024. “Calculations determined that this comet will pass closest to the sun on September 28, 2024, and closest to the Earth on October 12,” Sky Live reports.
Also known as A3, the comet will be some 400 million miles away and that’s the closest to the Earth. It is also said to be brighter and more visible than Comet NEOWISE which was witnessed in 2020.
Orionid Meteor Shower
The meteor showers will continue between September and November with the Orionid which is best described as the second shower produced from Halley. According to NASA, this shower completes its orbit around the sun every 76 years. Under ideal conditions, skywatchers can expect about 10 to 20 meteors per hour as they peak on the night of October 20 and the morning of October 21.
Geminid Meteor Shower
Finally, the last cosmic event for 2024 will be the Geminid meteor shower. Viewers will see at least 120 shooting stars during this shower under good conditions. It is often described as the best shower of the year due to its display of bright meteors.
Which of these events would you be present at? Start packing your bags for an adventure of cosmic displays!