DENVER – The upcoming solar eclipse may be the most widely anticipated event in decades but it’s not the only show taking place in the sky this year.
From now until December, skywatchers can also take in meteor showers and the convergence of two of the brightest planets.
Here are the main events to look out for:
Aug. 12: Perseid meteor shower
The annual Perseid meteor shower will peak on Aug. 12. but because the peak period coincides with a three-quarters-full moon, your best chances for viewing may be before or after that. Earth will be passing through the path of Comet Swift-Tuttle for more than a month -- between July 17 and Aug. 24. If you can find a dark enough spot, typical meteor rates are about 80 per hour during the peak, according to Space.com.
Aug. 21: Total solar eclipse
The highly-anticipated total solar eclipse will take place on Aug. 21, when the moon will completely obstruct the sun. The total eclipse will be visible in a 70-mile-wide path from Oregon to South Carolina. Other areas will see a partial eclipse.
Nov. 13: Venus and Jupiter get cozy
In November, Venus and Jupiter, both viewable to the naked eye, will gradually move closer together in the sky (at least from our vantage point on Earth. They aren’t actually getting closer). They’ll reach their closest point at dawn on Nov. 13, separated by just 18 arc-minutes, according to National Geographic. That’s about the width of a half-lit moon.
Dec. 13: Geminid meteor shower
Another meteor shower will grace the sky in December. The Geminids will peak on Dec. 13 with rates of about 60 to 120 meteors per hour, according to National Geographic. Viewing conditions should be better than the Perseids, with just a crescent moon that sets at about midnight.