Must-See Stargazing Events of 2014

Some of the best memories from camping trips come from just staring up at the stars and taking in all of the beauty that surrounds us. It’s hard to do that anywhere but in the woods while you are away from the hustle and bustle of busy city life. You never know, you may just see some amazing phenomena if you look up at just the right time! Here are some of the best stargazing events of 2014 that you can’t afford to miss!

April 14-15: An “M&M” Night: During the overnight hours, it will be a night first for Mars and later for the full moon. Mars will come to within 57.4 million miles of our planet, making its closest approach to Earth since January 2008. As a bonus, later that very same night, North America will have a ringside seat to a total lunar eclipse. This total lunar eclipse will be the first one widely visible from North America in nearly 3.5 years.

May 24: A Possible Outburst of Bright Meteors: Perhaps the most dramatic sky event in 2014 could come at the start of Memorial Day weekend. In the predawn hours of Saturday, May 24, our planet is expected to sweep through a great number of dusty trails left behind in space by a small comet (known as P/209 LINEAR). This unusual cosmic interaction might result in an amazing, but brief, display of meteors, popularly known as “shooting stars.” There could be many dozens, or even hundreds, of meteors per hour, experts say.

Aug. 10: Biggest Full Moon of 2014: On Aug. 10, the moon turns full at 2:09 p.m. EDT, and just nine minutes earlier it will arrive at its closest point to the Earth in 2014 at a distance of 221,765 miles, making this a so-called “supermoon.”

Aug. 18: A Brilliant Double Planet: An hour before sunrise, low in the northeast sky, the two brightest planets, Venus and Jupiter, will be strikingly close together. The two worlds will be separated by less than two-thirds of the apparent width of the moon in our sky, making for a very eye-catching sight.

Oct. 8: Another Total Lunar Eclipse: Across central and eastern North America, the moon will set while still completely immersed in Earth’s shadow. The moon will pass to the north of the center of the shadow, with totality lasting one hour. As a consequence, we might expect a relatively bright eclipse, possibly featuring a coppery red hue across the lower part of the moon, contrasted by a brighter upper rim.

Oct. 19: Near Collision of a Comet with Mars: All eyes will be on the Red Planet in October as Comet C/2013 A1(Siding Spring) will pass extremely close to Mars. The comet will come so close, in fact, that its may create a stupendous shower of meteors as seen from the Martian surface.

Oct. 23: A Partial Eclipse of the Sun: The moon’s penumbral shadow will fall over much of North America as well as extreme eastern Siberia, producing a partial solar eclipse. In the east, the moon will begin its encroachment onto the sun’s disk as it sets.

Dec. 13: The Geminid Meteor Shower: The Geminids, regarded by many observers as the best of the annual meteor showers, has the misfortune of occurring during the time of a last-quarter moon, which will pretty much squelch all but the brightest meteors, but still look for those shooting stars to make a wish on!