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2012 Night Sky Guide: The Year's Best Astronomical Events

Total lunar eclipse photos from Phoenix, Ariz., by Charles Jones
Skywatcher Charles R. Jones II took this photo of the total lunar eclipse Dec. 10 from Phoenix, Ariz. (Image credit: Charles R. Jones II)

The coming year should be chock full of fantastic skywatching opportunities, inlcuding chances to catch eclipses, stars and planets in notable arrangements, and more. Here are some of the highlights.

Occultations of planets and bright stars are by the moon unless noted otherwise. General locations are given for these occultations. For observers outside these locations, close conjunctions of the moon and objects may be observed.

All times are given in Universal Time (UT). To calculate the time for your location, use the following table. Take the UT time and add the time in the table for your time zone. [See also our complete Night Sky events and information page, updated monthly. ]

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Geoff Gaherty was Space.com's Night Sky columnist and in partnership with Starry Night software and a dedicated amateur astronomer who sought to share the wonders of the night sky with the world. Based in Canada, Geoff studied mathematics and physics at McGill University and earned a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Toronto, all while pursuing a passion for the night sky and serving as an astronomy communicator. He credited a partial solar eclipse observed in 1946 (at age 5) and his 1957 sighting of the Comet Arend-Roland as a teenager for sparking his interest in amateur astronomy. In 2008, Geoff won the Chant Medal from the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, an award given to a Canadian amateur astronomer in recognition of their lifetime achievements. Sadly, Geoff passed away July 7, 2016 due to complications from a kidney transplant, but his legacy continues at Starry Night.