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14 Best Skywatching Events of 2017

Nov. 5 - Occultation of Aldebaran

Starry Night software

For the second time this year, the moon crosses in front of orange Aldebaran Nov. 5. The moon is nearly full, a 95-percent waning gibbous, and this early evening event will be visible from North America, except the westernmost part.

NEXT: Planet meet-up

Nov. 13 - Brilliant Double Planet Lies Low in the Dawn

Victor C. Rogus

About 45 minutes before sunrise, low to the east-southeast horizon, the two brightest planets, Venus and Jupiter, rise side by side and are separated by only 0.3 degrees. It's truly a beautiful sight, if you don't have any obstructions like trees or buildings in that same direction.

NEXT: Get outside

Dec. 14 - Geminid Meteor Shower

Maxim Senin

Many meteor observers consider the annual December Geminids to be the best shower of the year, surpassing even the famous Perseids of August. The Geminids are due to reach their 2016 peak early this morning, when up to 120 slow, graceful meteors per hour may be seen under ideal dark-sky conditions. The very best time to watch for them is around 2 a.m. local time, when Gemini stands almost directly overhead. The moon will be a narrow crescent and will be of little or no hindrance, and this could very well be one of the best meteor showers in many years.

NEXT: Aldebaran gone again

Dec. 30 - Occultation of Aldebaran

Starry Night Software

For the third and final time this year, the moon has a rendezvous with the orange eye of the bull as the year is coming to a close. A 93-percent waxing gibbous moon will do the job early this evening for much of North America.

Joe Rao serves as an instructor and guest lecturer at New York's Hayden Planetarium. He writes about astronomy for Natural History magazine, the Farmer's Almanac and other publications, and he is also an on-camera meteorologist for Fios1 News in Rye Brook, New York.

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