Many welcome 2022 with carefully placed optimism and just a hint of trepidation (which is justified given the whirlwind ride that was 2020 and 2021!) Whether you are in the former or latter camps and want to see more reasons to find 2022 exciting or hopeful, there is plenty to look forward to in this new year.
For one, 2022 is going to be chock full of nights for star-gazing! It promises to bring about plenty of cosmic wonders. Here are a few things to look forward to in 2022!
On the evening of January 7th, you can see Mercury at Greatest Eastern Elongation. This means it will be at its highest possible point over the evening sky horizon. To see Mercury for yourself, find it in the lower western sky just a little after sunset.
If you rise early from late March to early April, you can bear witness to a beautiful celestial display when some of our neighboring planets glow their brightest. Wake up about an hour before the sun rises and gaze upon the low southeastern skyline to watch Saturn, Mars, and Venus huddle together in a triangle. And on March 27 and 28, the crescent moon will join them. The planets will shift and on April 1, they will form a straight line. Beautiful!
In May, you may be able to catch sight of meteors! This is the perfect time for the peak of the Eta Aquarid meteor shower. The best time to go out and watch the meteor shower is during the hours of predawn on the 5th of May, after the waxing crescent moon. You’ll be able to observe the shooting stars originate from the Aquarius constellation.
May is also when we’ll see the first “blood flower moon” eclipse, called that because the moon will take on a reddish hue for over an hour. Specifically, the 16th of May! If you’re from North and South America, you’ll get the best ‘view’ of this amazing first full eclipse of the year.
From June 18th to the 27th, make sure to wake up early if you want to catch all FIVE of the major planets lined up. This is an event that is completely visible to the naked eye! The moon will also pass close by these planets between those dates. Get your binoculars or telescope ready!
The second “frosty blood moon” eclipse (named so because of its whiter color) will grace us on the 8th of November, with the Americas also having the better views. Like the other eclipse, it will be visible for over an hour, about 84 minutes! You won’t want to miss these eclipses because we won’t be having them for another three years.
Finally, keep an eye on December 8th as we will be able to observe the moon occulting a planet. This means it is very close to its brightest, which only happens every 26 months, and it will also eclipse Mars. Such a phenomenon doesn’t happen every day!