Spellbinding cosmic events to behold in 2024

FILE PHOTO: A plane is pictured in front of the full moon in Curitiba, Brazil February 8, 2020. REUTERS/Rodolfo Buhrer
Source: X01822

The total solar eclipse, partial solar eclipse, meteor showers, and both total and partial lunar eclipses have long captivated skywatchers with the mysteries of the universe.

These celestial events often prompt viewers to abandon their homes, comfort, and sleep to witness the rare, peculiar, yet captivating occurrences in the cosmic atmosphere.

Just this past April, North Americans flooded their streets to witness the total solar eclipse, marking one of the many celestial wonders of 2024. Prepare yourself as we guide you through a line-up of cosmic events slated for this year.

1. Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower

To continue unravelling the cosmic mysteries, countries in the southern hemisphere (Brazil, South Africa, Angola, etc.) will experience the Eta Aquarid shower when Earth passes through the remnants of Comet Halley's path. This annual phenomenon occurs between April and May, with its peak brightness anticipated on May 6, 2024. According to NASA, Eta Aquarid meteors race through the Earth's atmosphere at an alarming speed of approximately 148,000 miles per hour. For optimal viewing and enjoyment, seeking vantage points away from the glare of city lights is recommended.

2. Persied Meteor Shower

An upcoming spectacle worth anticipating is the Perseid meteor shower. Amidst the calm August nights, don't overlook the dazzling display of shooting stars gracing the heavens. According to NASA's projections, under favourable conditions, observers can expect to witness approximately 50 to 100 meteors appearing across the night sky per hour on the evenings of August 12 and the dawn of August 13. The Perseid meteor shower stands out as one of the best shooting star exhibitions annually and it's caused when the Earth travels through pieces of ice and rock left behind by Comet Swift-Tuttle, which made its closest approach to Earth in 1992.

3. Partial Lunar Eclipse

The occurrence of partial lunar eclipses is widely recognized globally due to their frequency. Observers across Europe, North and South America, and Africa will have the opportunity to witness the partial lunar eclipse, commencing at 10:12 pm EST on September 17 and 3:12 am GMT on September 18. This phenomenon occurs when a portion of the moon passes through the Earth's shadow.

4. The Wonder of Comet Tsuchinshan

In October 2024, the Tsuchinshan-ATLAS comet is approaching Earth. According to Sky Live, “calculations determined that this comet will pass closest to the sun on September 28, 2024, and closest to the Earth on October 12.” Dubbed as A3, this comet will be approximately 400 million miles away from Earth, marking its nearest approach. Furthermore, it is anticipated to shine brighter and be more visible unlike Comet NEOWISE, which graced the skies in 2020.

5. Orionid Meteor Shower

Meteor showers will persist from September to November, including the Orionid shower. It is often regarded as the second shower originating from Halley's Comet. NASA notes that this shower completes its orbit around the sun every 76 years. During its peak on the night of October 20 and the morning of October 21, skywatchers can anticipate witnessing approximately 10 to 20 meteors per hour under optimal viewing conditions.

6. Geminid Meteor Shower

Concluding the cosmic calendar for 2024, the Geminid meteor shower will take centre stage. Under favourable conditions, spectators can expect to witness about 120 shooting stars during this shower. Renowned for its dazzling array of bright meteors, the Geminid shower is often hailed as the premier shower of the year. The Geminid meteor shower is expected to peak on December 13, 2024.

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