Meteor Showers, Supermoons And Other Astrological Events To Watch For In 2022

meteor shower
With 2021 in the books, there is still much to look forward to when it comes to viewing the night sky in 2022. January will be bringing us a new Moon, a meteor shower, and the chance to see a couple of planets shining near the Moon.

The last month of 2021 provided plenty for sky watchers to take in. The Geminid meteor shower lit up the night sky with green fireballs in early December. Comet Leonard returned into our view as well for the first time in 70,000 years. And then at the end of the month the Ursid meteor shower gave us a celestial light show to close out 2021. Now with 2022 just beginning, we have a new meteor shower that is about to grace us with falling stars in the first part of January.

The Quadrantid meteor shower should be viewable tonight, January 2nd, and peak into the morning of January 3rd. This particular meteor shower will probably be one of the best of the coming year, producing a number of fireballs. To make the viewing of the Quadrantid meteor shower even better, the new moon will provide ideal conditions (provided the night sky is clear where you are). The new moon means that the night sky will be at its darkest, since there will be no visible moon. The meteor shower should continue to be viewable until around January 16th, according to different sources.

If you are wanting to get the best viewing for the upcoming meteor shower, you will need to find a dark location away from city lights. Once you find your viewing spot, turn toward the northeast, and then look up. The meteors will appear to originate from the constellation Bootes, which includes the bright star Arcturus. Bootes and Arcturus are located just below the Big Dipper and slightly to the right. Bear in mind that these falling stars can appear anywhere in the night sky, however. Fun fact, the source of the Quadrantics is thought to be asteroid 2003 EH1, which itself might be an extinct comet.

On January 5th the moon will have returned to the night sky and along with it an opportunity for you to view Jupiter. On that night, look to the southwest after sunset and find the crescent Moon. The Moon and Jupiter will only be separated by about 4 degrees, which should make it possible to view them together with a pair of binoculars.

At the end of the month in the early hours of January 29th, you should be able to get a glimpse of the Moon near Mars. Mars will be returning to the night sky after passing behind the Sun the last few months. Because of this, NASA also stops communicating with its spacecraft at Mars for about 2 weeks every two years, when the planet is directly opposite of the Sun. Along with Mars you will also be able to take a peek at Venus. Venus will be rising before the Sun as the "Morning Star" and will be viewable in the southeastern sky.

The moon is set to dazzle us throughout 2022 as well. There will be 12 full moons, with two of those being big and bright supermoons. There will also be two full moons happening during alignments that will create a total lunar eclipse. The term supermoon varies among astronomers, but most consider it to be a full moon that is less than 223,000 miles (approximately 360,000 km) from Earth at its closest point of orbit. The two supermoons will be on display June 14th and July 13th, while the lunar eclipses are scheduled to appear on May 15th and November 8th.

One more fun fact for 2022 is that the Earth will make its closest approach to the Sun of the year on January 4th. The event, called perihelion, will put Earth about three million miles closer to the Sun than at its furthest point in June, called aphelion. Earth will also reach its fastest orbital speed of around 19 miles per second as well, according to EarthSky.

There is a lot to be excited about when it comes to astronomy and space in 2022. NASA is set to launch its first Artemis mission, which will culminate in putting boots back on the surface of the moon. We also have the James Webb Space Telescope to look forward to and all the potential discoveries it will make about our universe. Hopefully 2022 will provide us with a much better experience than the last couple of years have.