Each year we are inundated with news articles about differently-coloured Moons, barely visible meteor showers and conjunctions that aren’t particularly spectacular. This list highlights the events that we think are worth paying attention to, particularly as astrophotographers!
- Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) – Early February
While not the showiest comet in in recent years, this one will be bright enough to just make out in binoculars during February this year. Even better, it will make for a fantastic astrophotography target due to its beautiful V-shaped tail.
While the comet will be brightest on February 1st, it will not be above the horizon in the evening until a few days later, with a nice opportunity to capture it drifting through the dusty dark nebulae around the Hyades region in Taurus between the 13th and 17th.
- Ningaloo Solar Eclipse – April 20
On April 20th 2023, a rare hybrid Solar eclipse will be visible from the small town of Exmouth at the top of Western Australia, one of only a handful of places on Earth where totality will be observed. Here the Moon will completely block out the Sun for only 62 seconds.
Testar, along with most likely hundreds of thousands of visitors, will be travelling to this remote region to (hopefully) bring you live coverage of this awesome event!
As an aside, we have a huge selection of Baader AstroSolar filters available for telescopes, binoculars and camera lenses, along with eclipse safety glasses.
- Jupiter and Saturn opposition
On August 27 2023 Saturn will be at opposition displaying an apparent diameter of 19" while the rings will stretch to 42.1". This year will be the last opportunity until 2027 to get a decent look at its rings, as we are very close to being on their plane. Jupiter will be at opposition on November 3 with a diameter of 48.4".
Jupiter and Saturn close to their opposition in 2018. Credit: Adriano Massatani.
- Geminids Meteor Shower – December 4 - 20
Meteor showers are rare and they frequently disappoint the observer due to their low rate per hour. In the Southern Hemisphere, the Geminids are well visible and under a dark sky, they can surpass a rate of 100 meteors per hour. According to the International Meteor Organization, in 2023 the peak will be on December 15 in Australia during the early morning hours before dawn.
Fortunately, it will be just one day after New Moon, but the radiant point will be quite low at 23 degrees above the horizon. The IMO is predicting a zenithal hourly rate (ZHR) of 150.
Meteor showers occur when the Earth transits across an area with more dust and particles which gets attired by the Earth's gravity and burns as meteors. The morning before dawn is the best moment to watch a meteor shower as the Earth is facing the "cloud" of dust during its orbit around the Sun. In comparison, there is a higher chance to hit an insect on the front windscreen of your car rather than on the side windows.