The Top 101 Astronomical Events for 2016

Camping out under dark skies. Image credit and copyright: Michelle Nixon/MNixon Photography

Here it is… our year end look at upcoming events in a sky near you. We’ve been doing this “blog post that takes four months to write” now on one platform or another every year since 2009, and every year, it gets bigger and more diverse, thanks to reader input. This is not a top 10 listicle, and not a full-fledged almanac, but hopefully, something special and unique in between. And as always, some of the events listed will be seen by a large swath of humanity, while others grace the hinterlands and may well go unrecorded by human eyes. We’ll explain our reasoning for drilling down each category, and give a handy list of resources at the end.

Click on any of the graphics included for the top events for each month to enlarge.

Here’s our quick picks for the very best astronomical events for 2016:

– Comet C/2013 US10 Catalina continues to perform as a binocular comet through January.

– Mars reaches opposition on May 22nd.

-Mercury transits the Sun on May 9th, the first time it has done so since 2006.

-A close grouping of Venus and Jupiter on August 27th.

-A total solar eclipse of the Sun crossing southeast Asia on March 9th.

-A fine series of occultations of the bright star Aldebaran by the Moon continues, including a fine nighttime event on January 20th for North America.

-An annular solar eclipse across central Africa on September 1st.

And check out this nifty simulation of lunar phases for 2016 courtesy of the NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter:

No dawn or dusk elongations of the planet Venus occur in 2016. The last time Venus experienced an ‘elongationless year’ was 2008, and the next is 2024, right in step with the 8-year cycle of Venus. 2016 also sees the Sun coming off of —> Read More