Astrophotographers have already been enjoying a pretty exciting year with an amazing solar eclipse, a new comet and plenty of northern lights shows illuminating the skies in states that typically miss out the auroras. The rest of the year is looking just as promising for those who like to get out and shoot the amazing events that our solar system brings. Here are some dates to circle on your calendars for the remainder of 2015:
Double Planets – June 30 and Oct 26
Get ready for Jupiter and Venus to appear extremely close in the sky creating a unique nighttime view that will be visible on just two occasions in 2015.. They will be separated by approximately one degree in the sky, generating a unique and beautiful image that can be easily captured by any aspiring astrophotographers. For the June event, look just after sunset to catch the two planets – October’s best viewing will be just before sunrise.
Perseid Meteor Shower – August 12
The Perseids light up the August sky each and every year, often bringing some of the highest meteors per hour rates of any event all year. Depending on where you are and how much light pollution exists, upwards of 90 meteors an hour is a realistic possibility with the Perseids. This is, perhaps, the best opportunity to practice photographing meteors in North America under the comfort of a warm summer night.
Supermoon and total lunar eclipse- September 28
Of the three supermoons on the calendar for 2015, the Sept. 28 event will be the closest full moon to the earth for this calendar year. A moon this big and bright provides some excellent opportunities for photographers with just about any type of gear.
This same night, however, also brings another total lunar eclipse or a blood moon. The eastern half of North America should have full view of the entire eclipse which will begin early in the evening, reaching totality around 10PM Eastern Time. Try making a timelapse of the moon for this night, you won’t be disappointed.
Comet C/2013 US10 Catalina – Oct 1
This is far from a sure thing at this point, but researchers speculate that the new comet C/2013 US10 Catalina may reach naked eye visibility on October first giving all stargazers and astrophotographers a reason to head to their favorite place far away from city lights.
Taurid Meteors – Late October/Early November
The Taurid meteor shower usually starts in September and runs all the way through the second week of December. The peak for this year’s event is expected to fall on the week of November 5-12th. While meteors numbers are not typically as high as showers like the Perseids or Geminids, the Taurids are known for producing a higher number of fireballs. If you can manage to capture one of those with your dSLR, you’ll have a photo to cherish for the rest of your life. Researchers believe this year’s fireball chances will be especially high as the Earth is forecast to pass through an area of larger particles in the solar system.
Geminid Meteor Shower – December 13 and 14
As far as meteor showers go, the best is saved for last this year. The Geminids are expected to be bigger and brighter than the Perseids and the moon will be nothing more than a crescent setting very early in the evening – leaving peak hours of complete darkness for you to capture meteors at a rate that could approach 120 per hour!