7 out-of-this-world stargazing events happening this winter


Sure, stargazing is a staple of summertime. Who doesn’t love to unfold a lawn chair, tilt their head back, and revel in the stars to the soundtrack of crickets and loons?

What you might not realize, though, is winter has its own star-gazing charm—the quiet hush of the snow, the clearness of the sky, and the knowledge that very few people besides you are crazy enough to spend that amount of time outside in freezing temperatures.

If you do choose to brave the elements, though, prepare for some great sights. Just make sure to bundle up well (including a good hat, warm boots, and a couple of layers of socks) and pack a Thermos of hot chocolate.

December 13-14, 2016—Geminids meteor shower

Look for up to 120 colourful meteors at the height of this “king of meteor showers.” You’ll be able to see meteors from all directions, but you may see more if you look south after sunset and before sunrise. Just make sure to get away from city lights — the full moon on the 14th might dim some fainter meteors already, so watching in the country will make sure you can see as much as possible.

December 14, 2016—Supermoon

A supermoon happens when the new or full moon coincides with its perigee, or closest point to the earth, making the moon appear bigger and brighter than usual. Although not as big, bright or close as the supermoon in November, this supermoon, known as the Full Cold Moon, is 2016’s last. There aren’t any more supermoons until next December, so it’s worth taking a look—even if it’s chilly.

January 3-4, 2017—Quadrantids meteor shower

Potentially not as prolific as the Geminids, the Quadrantids nonetheless are worth checking out if you’re having trouble sleeping late on January 3 (or very early on January 4). The Quadrantids is thought to be produced by dust from an extinct comet, discovered in 2003. Once the moon sets around midnight, you should have a fairly dark sky for viewing, especially if you get away from artificial lights.

January 12, 2017—Venus at greatest eastern elongation

Venus will be at its highest point above the horizon, making it appear brighter than usual. You can see it in the western sky after sunset.

January 12, 2017—Full moon

Known as the Old Moon, the Moon After Yule, and the Full Wolf Moon, this moon was associated with an increase in howling from hungry wolf packs.

February 11, 2017—Full moon

This moon was known by Aboriginal peoples as the Full Snow Moon, as it often coincided with heavy snowfalls. Because hunting was difficult during this time, it was also called the Full Hunger Moon.

February 11, 2017—Penumbral lunar eclipse

Occurring when the moon passes through the earth’s shadow, or penumbra, this penumbral eclipse will be visible in eastern Canada. Expect the moon to darken, but not completely.

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