5 exciting celestial events to look forward to in 2019

This one’s for you, stargazers and eclipse-chasers. Source: Shutterstock.

ASTROTOURISM is expected to receive a big boost this year as more and more travelers continue to jump on the bandwagon.

For the uninitiated, astrotourism is where stargazing, meteor shower-loving, and eclipse-chasing travelers search for far-flung destinations where the sky is the darkest and clearest, such as clearings or remote campsites to connect with the cosmos.

The appeal of a once-in-a-lifetime experience, undoubtedly the new cool, is motivating curious astronomy-lovers to plan their holidays around a celestial phenomenon.

Events like shooting stars, for example, are far and few in between, and no two are the same. But it is worth traveling across the world to witness.

If catching a rare celestial sight is on your travel bucket list this year, here are five exciting events you can look forward to:

Jan 3, 2019: The Quadrantids

The Quadrantids are usually active between the end of December and the second week of January, and peak around Jan 3 and Jan 4.

Unlike other meteor showers that tend to stay at their peak for about two days, the peak period of the Quadrantids only lasts a few hours.

In Asia, Sai Kung Island Reservoir in Hong Kong will afford you the best view of the meteor shower when the Quandrantids peak on Jan 3.

Jan 6, 2019: Partial solar eclipse

In the first week of 2019, specifically on Jan 6, the moon will pass between the Earth and sun to stage a partial solar eclipse, according to NASA.

This will be visible only from northeast Asia and the North Pacific so if you happen to be in northeast China, Mongolia, the Korean peninsula or Japan, you will be able to witness it.

Sky & Telescope notes that people will see 20 percent of the sun covered from Beijing, 30 percent from Tokyo, and 37 percent from Vladivostok, Russia.

The point of the maximum eclipse, when about 60 percent of the sun is covered, will be visible only in Siberia.

July 2, 2019: Total eclipse

In August 2017, millions of people in the US enjoyed front-row seats to one of the greatest celestial shows of the year when the moon’s shadow crossed country- a total solar eclipse of the sun.

This year, those in South America and South Asia will be able to feast their (well protected) eyes on the maximum eclipse which is expected to occur just before sunset on July 2, 2019.

According to Sky & Telescope, the entire event will take place from 12:55 to 5:50pm ET, with the maximum eclipse occurring at 3:23pm.

Nov 11, 2019: Mercury passes the sun

Mercury, the smallest planet in our solar system, will appear to cross the disk of the sun on Nov 11, 2019, a rare phenomenon that is also known as the “black drop moment”.

In fact, it is so rare that it will probably not happen again until 2032 as Mercury passes the Earth and the sun only once in every 13 years.

Seek out the local space museum or astronomy club wherever you are, some of which may be holding public viewings of the moment when a teardrop-shaped “black drop” appears on the edge of the sun’s disk.

Dec 26, 2019: “Ring of fire”

2019 will close out with a big bang as an annular solar eclipse graces the skies over the Arabian Peninsula and areas of South Asia.

An annular solar eclipse, also known as a “ring of fire”, occurs when the circumference of the sun shines brightly from behind the moon as the moon is not big enough to cover the entire disk of the sun.

The event will begin right at the dawn of Boxing Day so perhaps put solar safety glasses on your Christmas wishlist this year?