7 astronomical events you don’t want to miss in 2015

Night sky

One of the many perks of living in a sparsely populated country like Canada is the night sky. The lack of population and light pollution (relatively speaking, of course) makes for really dark skies and spectacular stargazing. Some spots are so dark, in fact, that they’ve been designated as Dark Sky Preserves by the Royal Astronomy Society of Canada. But whether you’re keen enough to make the trip to one of these reserves or you’re more inclined to simply take in the stars from your cottage dock, some nights are better than others for gazing up at the heavens. Here are a few dates you won’t want to miss in 2015.

Double Plant, June 30

Just after the sun goes down on June 30, in the west-southwest sky, Venus and Jupiter will appear to be very close together. They’ll be about the width of the moon apart and should make for a spectacular scene.

Perseid Meteor Shower, August 12

Considered the most impressive of the annual meteor displays, lucky stargazers will see up to 90 meteors in an hour during this shower. In 2014 the moon hindered visibility, but not this year—the shower happens during a new moon, which should leave the night sky nice and dark for maximum meteor spotting.

Last Quarter Moon, September 4

Throughout Eastern North America, the last quarter moon will pass in front of one of the sky’s brightest stars known as Aldebaran (the orange eye of Taurus).

Lunar Eclipse, September 27-28

Stargazers east of Winnipeg will see an entire lunar eclipse from start to finish. This is also the night the moon is closest to Earth. The moon is full at 10:51 p.m.

Double Planet, October 26

Once again, Venus and Jupiter will cross the night sky and appear to be even closer than on June 30. Venus will pass to the lower left of Jupiter and will shine ten times brighter.

Taurid Meteor Shower, October and November

Sometimes called the Halloween Fireballs, the Taurid meteor showers start in mid-October and continue through to mid-November. They should peak between November 5 and November 12, 2015.

Geminid Meteor Shower, December 13-14

Many avid stargazers consider the Geminid meteor shower to be the best of the year due to its brightness. The peak hours occur during the day in Canada, but there should still be a show happening at night. And with a new moon at this time,  your chances of spotting meteors are high.