1. 2013 Solar Maximum
A coronal mass ejection from April 16, 2012
This year the sun will be undergoing its solar maximum. The sun runs along an 11 year cycle of docile and smooth solar activity, to a more violent and dangerous onslaught of solar weather (the solar maximum). We hopefully won’t have to worry too much about this unless we’re caught right in the path of a solar flare. If this is the case then it is estimated that a single solar flare could cause up to $2 trillion in damages due to electrical short circuits and other mishaps. Fortunately, scientists believe this solar max will be much less violent than past occurrences.
2. Ison to Light up the Sky
Around Thanksgiving time in 2013 the comet Ison will make its orbit around the sun. Comet’s tails are formed from solar winds melting, and throwing the ice from the comet out into space, creating the large arc or tail. Ison has a good chance of just breaking up and being incinerated by the sun, but if it survives, in tact, throughout its orbit, we will have quite a show for the remainder of the year. If Ison does decide to stick around, it is predicted that not only will it outshine the famous comet Hale-Bopp of 1997, but will also for a few nights outshine the moon.
3. “Hybrid” Solar Eclipse to Occur
Later into the year, on November 3, a very rare “hybrid” solar eclipse will occur over much of Africa. A hybrid eclipse is an eclipse that to part of the globe is a total eclipse, and to other parts of the globe is a partial eclipse.
4. Anual Meteor Showers
The Lyrid meteor shower of 2010
The year is laced with many meteor showers. Meteor showers are caused when Earth travels through the debris left in the wake of a comet. There are a few meteor showers to point out that are always great to see.
MPH: Meteors Per Hour
January 3 – Quadrantid (60-120 mph)
April 22 – Lyrid (10-20 mph)
October 21 – Orionid (10-20 mph)
November 17 – Leonid (10-20 mph)
December 14 – Geminid (100+ mph)
5. Planetary Conjunction
A computer animation of the conjunction
Finally, in the later half of May, specifically May 28, Mercury, Jupiter, and Venus will cross visual paths and form what is called a planetary conjunction. Basically all three planets will look like one large object to the naked eye as they pass in front and behind each other. This is a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to see the two brightest objects in the night sky (not including the moon) as close together as possible.
Be sure to check out all of these events as they happen and stay tuned for more