Top 5: You won’t want to miss these celestial events of 2023

Possible naked-eye comet, solar eclipse top list

ORLANDO, Fla. – 2023 will be jam-packed full of astronomical events worthy of making plans for. Most of the events on this list don’t even require a telescope!

Here are just five of the many reasons to look up at the night sky in 2023.

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5. Moonless meteor showers

Number five is a two-for-one special. The Perseids and Geminids are two of the best annual meteor showers we have. In 2023, near-perfect viewing (weather permitting) is expected as moonlight will not be a factor in either of the displays.

Perseid Meteor Shower: Peak August 11 & 12

Perseid Meteor Shower

Geminid Meteor Shower: Peak December 13 & 14

Geminid meteor shower

Meteor showers are best observed with the naked eye. It’s best to be away from city lights and allow about 15-30 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the darkness. Be patient! Meteor showers are notorious for having lulls and spurts during the show.

4. Jupiter and Venus conjunction

March 1

Two of the brightest objects in our night sky are about to get up close and personal from our perspective. In reality, the two bodies are still extremely far apart.

Jupiter & Venus

You will notice Jupiter and Venus inch closer together after sunset through February. They will be at their closest on the evening of March 1.

3. Asteroid 319 (Leona) blocks Betelgeuse

December 12

Only a select few people in the U.S. will be able to see this rare event, but you won’t have to travel far in Florida. On Dec. 12, an asteroid is going to move in in front of one of the brightest stars in our night sky. Asteroid Leona will block the light of the iconic orange star Betelgeuse. Betelgeuse makes up the shoulder of the well-known constellation Orion.

Leona occults Betelgeuse

For about 10 seconds, just before 8:30, it will look like the star has gone missing as the asteroid occults Betelgeuse.

Leona occults Betelgeuse

This is only visible from the Florida Keys and extreme south Florida in the U.S. This will also be visible, however, in parts of southern Europe.

2. Comet ZTF

Late January through Early February

There is a lot of buzz about a comet lighting up the sky in January and February. Rightfully so, but this one is going to be hard to see with the unaided eye if you are around city lights.

What is a comet?

Comets are notoriously hard to forecast, but Comet ZTF, named for the Zwicky Transient Facility where it was discovered, does have the potential to be a naked-eye comet in late January and early February. You likely won’t even know it’s there with lights around unless ZTF has an extreme surprise up its sleeve.

Comet ZTF

If it does, it will look like a green smudge near the Big Dipper. Binoculars or a small telescope will enhance the viewing of this once in 50,0000 year event.

1. Ring Of Fire Eclipse

October 14

This will be a partial solar eclipse for Florida, like what was observed in 2017. For a select few areas out west, however, a rare ring of fire eclipse will be seen. Like a total solar eclipse, the moon moves in between the Earth and sun. This time around, the moon won’t completely cover the sun during the main event, but will leave a thin ring of orange around the moon, hence the ring of fire name.

Ring of fire eclipse

Special eclipse glasses will be needed to view the partial solar eclipse and the full ring of fire eclipse out west.

Looking ahead to 2024

Something even greater is coming into alignment for the spring of 2024. Like in 2017, a total solar eclipse will be visible for a large portion of the U.S.; Florida will miss out on totality, but a partial solar eclipse will again be visible.

This eclipse brings total darkness for a few minutes where totality occurs. It’s during this portion of the eclipse that the special glasses can be taken off for a few moments to view the sun’s corona.

2024 total solar eclipse

Totality will be seen in a small sliver from Texas through upstate New York. This is an event worth planning a trip around. It will take place April 8.

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About the Author:

Jonathan Kegges joined the News 6 team in June 2019 and now covers weather on TV and all digital platforms.