Stargazers in Southwest Colorado will start the new year with a glimpse of a meteor shower as the Quadrantids streak through the sky on Thursday and Friday.
A super blood moon also is coming in January, and the year will close with a rarely seen show in November.
The Quadrantids show will begin late Thursday and run through dawn Friday in a dark sky unlit by a moon, and the southwestern and central U.S. will offer the best views.
"Any place at mid-northern and far-northern latitudes might be in a decent position to watch the Quadrantids in 2019, especially as there is no moonlight to ruin this year's show," EarthSky says.
During clear, dark conditions, 50 to 100 meteors per hour can be seen during the peak, but EarthSky warns that because the peak falls in a narrow window of a few hours, viewers will need to be on their toes. The International Meteor Organization estimates that the peak will occur at 7 a.m. Friday and will appear to originate near the handle of the Big Dipper.
Quadrantids are known for their bright fireballs, which, according to NASA, often last longer than an average meteor streak.
What's coming in 2019Super blood moon: The most-viewed cosmic event of 2019 will occur Jan. 20-21 as the moon turns red during the year's only total lunar eclipse. It will be visible throughout North America the night of Jan. 20 and early morning of Jan. 21. The moon gradually turns orange to deep red as it passes through the Earth's shadow.Eta Aquarids meteor shower: One of the best meteor showers of the year will occur worldwide on May 6-7 as Earth passes through the debris trail from Halley's Comet and the debris burns in our atmosphere.This meteor shower favors the Southern Hemisphere with up to 60 meteors per hour, but viewers in the Northern Hemisphere might see 30 meteors per hour. Although December's Geminids present more meteors per hour, the Eta Aquarids will fall during a new moon.
"Eta Aquarid meteors are known for their speed," NASA says. They travel about 148,000 mph and in their wake leave glowing trains that can last several minutes.
Perseids meteor shower: The annual Perseid shower will peak the night of Aug. 12 and early morning of Aug. 13. "The Perseid meteor shower is often considered to be one of the best meteor showers of the year due to its high rates and pleasant late-summer temperatures," NASA says. This year, however, they will fall just before a full moon, and viewers may see dimmer shooting stars.Mercury crosses the sun: On Nov. 11, viewers using solar filters may witness the rare sight of Mercury appearing as a black dot traveling across the sun. The phenomenon, known as a transit, will not reoccur until Nov. 13, 2032.To avoid eye damage, viewers will need solar filters like those used during the Great American Eclipse. Glasses and viewers may be reused safely if they haven't been damaged.
"If the filters aren't scratched, punctured, or torn, you may reuse them indefinitely," NASA says.