Auroras, Star Eclipse, Blue Moon: Spectacular Summer 2024 Night Sky Events You Don’t Want to Miss!

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By Lydia Amazouz Published on June 22, 2024 08:30
Auroras, Star Eclipse, Blue Moon Spectacular Summer 2024 Night Sky Events You Don't Want To Miss!

The summer night sky in 2024 promises a spectacular array of celestial events, from  stunning auroras, to planetary conjunctions and rare eclipses. Here’s a detailed look at what skywatchers in the northern hemisphere can expect from June through September.

Conjunction of Saturn and the Moon

On the pre-dawn morning of June 27, observers will witness a close conjunction of the 68%-lit waning gibbous moon with Saturn in the eastern sky. This event is especially notable because, according to In-The-Sky.org, the moon will occult Saturn for a few hours, a phenomenon visible from eastern Australia and northeastern New Zealand.

Conjunction Of Saturn And The Moon

Mars and Jupiter will also be nearby, adding to the celestial display. This rare alignment offers a unique opportunity for astronomers and enthusiasts alike to see these celestial bodies in close proximity. "It's a rare treat to see Saturn so close to the moon," said Jamie Carter of Forbes. "For those lucky enough to be in the right location, it will be a stunning sight."

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The Milky Way

The best time to observe the Milky Way from the northern hemisphere is between June and September, particularly during the darkest 10 nights of the month, away from light pollution and moonlight. The Milky Way, a luminous band of stars arching across the night sky, can be seen clearly during this period.

The Milky Way

Viewing the Milky Way is one of the most breathtaking experiences for stargazers. "The sight of the Milky Way arching across the sky after dark is worth staying up late for," Carter emphasizes, highlighting the beauty of our galaxy. This period offers the clearest and most vivid views of our galaxy’s central core, providing an unforgettable experience for skywatchers.

Occultation of Spica

One of the brightest stars in the summer night sky, Spica in Virgo, will be occulted by the moon on the night of July 13-14. This rare event will be visible from North and Central America. According to In-The-Sky.org, Spica will be hidden by a first quarter moon between 9:40 PM EDT on July 13 and 12:58 AM EDT on July 14.

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Occultation Of Spica

Different regions will experience various phases of the occultation, making this a must-see for skywatchers across the continent. "Witnessing the occultation of Spica is a unique event," said an astronomer from NASA. "It’s a perfect chance to see the interaction between our moon and a distant star."

Delta Aquariid Meteor Shower

The Delta Aquariid meteor shower will peak on the night of July 30-31, offering about 10-20 meteors per hour. This shower is best viewed from the southern United States, where the radiant point rises highest in the sky.

Delta Aquariid Meteor Shower

The Delta Aquariids are the first major meteor shower since April, providing a stunning display of shooting stars. "The Delta Aquariids are a precursor to the Perseids, warming up the night sky with their beautiful streaks of light," noted the American Meteor Society. Observing this meteor shower is a great way to get excited for the more prominent Perseid shower later in the summer.

Perseid Meteor Shower

The Perseid meteor shower, often considered the best meteor display of the year, will peak overnight from August 12-13. With up to 100 meteors per hour, this shower is highly anticipated by skywatchers.

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Perseid Meteor Shower

The moon will set just before midnight, ensuring a dark sky for optimal viewing. "The Perseids are swift and often leave persistent streaks of 'trains' for a few seconds after flashing across the sky," notes the Washington Post, emphasizing the spectacle’s visual appeal. The Perseids are known for their bright meteors and frequent fireballs, making this event a highlight of the summer sky.

Mars and Jupiter in Conjunction

On the morning of August 14, Mars and Jupiter will appear just a third of a degree apart in the eastern sky. This conjunction provides an excellent opportunity for early risers to see both planets close together.

Mars Vs Jupiter Differences And Similarities

As summer progresses, these planets will become more prominent in the night sky, making them key highlights for observers. "Seeing Mars and Jupiter so close together is a remarkable event," said an astronomer from the International Astronomical Union. "It's a fantastic opportunity to compare the two planets with the naked eye."

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Saturn Reaches Opposition

Saturn will reach opposition on September 8, rising in the east as the sun sets and remaining visible all night. This is the best time of the year to observe Saturn through a telescope, as the planet will be at its closest and brightest. "If there’s one 'wow' astronomy moment everyone remembers, it’s their first look at Saturn through a telescope," Carter remarks, capturing the excitement of seeing the ringed planet. Saturn’s rings will be tilted at a small angle, offering a unique and spectacular view of this iconic planet.

Saturn At Opposition

A Super Harvest Moon Eclipse

On September 17, the full Harvest Moon will also be a supermoon, appearing larger and brighter in the sky. This moon will undergo a slight partial eclipse as it moves through Earth’s outer shadow. The eclipse will be visible from North and South America, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. "The Harvest Moon, traditionally helping farmers gather crops late into the night, will offer an additional spectacle with its supermoon status," explains Carter. This rare event combines the beauty of a supermoon with the subtle drama of a lunar eclipse, making it a must-see for sky enthusiasts.

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Harvest Moon 2023

Auroras Across the Planet

With the sun nearing its solar maximum in late 2024, there’s a heightened chance of seeing auroras around the equinoxes. As August and September approach, skywatchers should be on the lookout for these natural light displays. "The northern (and southern) lights are strongest around the equinoxes, making the weeks around September 24’s fall equinox worth penciling in," advises Carter. Auroras are best viewed from dark sky locations, and a trip to the Arctic Circle or similar high-latitude regions can offer unforgettable views of these stunning phenomena.

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This summer offers a wealth of opportunities for skywatchers to experience the wonders of the night sky. Whether you’re observing auroras, planetary conjunctions, or rare eclipses, the season promises memorable celestial events. Don’t miss out on these incredible displays that highlight the beauty and mystery of our universe.

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An editor specializing in astronomy and space industry, passionate about uncovering the mysteries of the universe and the technological advances that propel space exploration.

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