In 2023, we’ll see a bright comet, a rare hybrid solar eclipse, and other unique astronomical events. Check the following list and circle the best nights for stargazing in your calendar!
January 4: Quadrantid meteor shower peak
The year starts with the Quadrantids. It is one of the most active meteor showers of the year: its hourly rate varies from 60 to 200. It is also known to produce fireballs. Unfortunately, this year, the peak occurs two days before the Full Moon. Better start observations in the morning, between moonset and sunrise: this way, you’ll get 1–2 hours without the 92%-illuminated Moon lighting up the sky. In the Northern Hemisphere, the radiant is always high in the sky. The farther south, the more likely it will appear above the horizon during the daytime.
February 1: Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) reaches maximum brightness
By the end of January 2023, comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) will pass perihelion, and on February 1, it will come closest to the Earth. It will be the best day to observe the comet because, at this time, it will be the brightest. Currently, C/2022 E3 (ZTF) can be seen through a telescope. By early February, it will get bright enough to be visible through binoculars or, according to some forecasts, even with the naked eye. This year, this is the only comet this bright, so don’t miss out!
April 20: Hybrid solar eclipse
This April, we’ll have a chance to see a rare [hybrid total/annular eclipse](https://starwalk.space/infographics/when-is-the-next-eclipse), which is an eclipse that changes its appearance as the Moon’s shadow moves across the Earth. Eclipses of that kind are infrequent: for instance, this century, we’ll only have 7 of them. In most cases, a hybrid eclipse begins as annular, becomes total, and then reverts to annular. Observers from Australia, Indonesia, and East Timor will witness this unique event; the surrounding regions will see a partial solar eclipse.
May 17: Lunar occultation of Jupiter
Lunar occultation is rare and hard to observe: it is only visible from certain parts of the world. This time, the unusual celestial event will be visible from parts of the Americas and Europe. Stargazers will see the Moon passing in front of Jupiter. The bright planet will disappear behind the almost invisible lunar disc and reappear an hour later. The rest of the world will see the thin lunar crescent shining very close to the planet. Next time we’ll see the Moon occulting Jupiter in 2026, so better seize the moment this year.
August 13: Perseid meteor shower peak
The Perseid meteor shower is one of the most popular and abundant showers of the year. It can produce up to 100 meteors per hour. This year, the Perseids’ peak is two days before the New Moon, so observing conditions are favorable. This meteor shower is primarily visible from the Northern Hemisphere, where the radiant is always above the horizon.
August 27: Saturn at opposition
Once a year, the Earth comes between Saturn and the Sun, so that the ringed planet is opposite the star in the sky: when the Sun sets in the west, Saturn rises in the east. At this time, the planet looks bigger and brighter than usual, so it’s the best chance to observe it. Through binoculars, Saturn will appear as an oval-shaped disc; a telescope will reveal the rings. You will find it shining at a magnitude of 0.4 in the constellation Aquarius.
August 31: The biggest Full Moon of 2023
The Supermoon occurring on August 31, 2023, will come closer to the Earth than other Full Moons of the year and will become the year’s brightest and most prominent. Moreover, it is going to be a Blue Moon or the second Full Moon in a calendar month (note that the name has nothing to do with the real color of the Moon). Don’t forget to take a walk under the moonlight, and read our article to learn how to tell a Supermoon from a regular Full Moon.
October 14: Ring of Fire — annular solar eclipse
Another solar eclipse will be visible over the North and South American continents. Observers from the United States, Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Colombia, and Brazil will see a “ring of fire”, or annulus — the bright ring of sunlight around the Moon. The rest of the Western Hemisphere will experience a partial eclipse. The next solar eclipse of this kind will happen in a year and will be only visible from Chile and Argentina.
November 3: Jupiter at opposition
Being the 3rd brightest object in the night sky (after the Moon and Venus), Jupiter is usually clearly visible. On November 3, 2023, it will reach opposition and shine the brightest of the year (with an apparent magnitude of -2.9) in the constellation Aries. The planet can be observed with the naked eye; take binoculars or a telescope to see the Galilean moons surrounding Jupiter.
December 14: Geminid meteor shower peak
The bright Geminids are usually the year’s strongest and most reliable meteor shower. It is known to produce up to 150 multi-colored meteors per hour. The spectacular show can be seen in both hemispheres. Observers from the northern latitudes can start observations in the evening. Stargazers from the Southern Hemisphere will have to wait a bit longer: the radiant will rise above the horizon only around midnight.
We wish you clear skies and happy observations!