Larry Ciupik, astronomer with Chicago’s Adler Planetarium, the nation’s first, ID’s the year’s top celestial events.
August 12 Perseid Meteor Shower. Earth collides with a stream of comet dust, producing flaring meteors at a rate of about 50 per hour in this “Old Faithful of meteor showers.” Look toward the northeast about 90 minutes after sunset.
September 2 Venus and Jupiter approach each other and will be visible very low in the west just after sunset. The brightest planets in the sky will converge within three moon diameters — astronomy-speak for “real close.”
October 3 Annular eclipse. This solar eclipse will be visible in a 100-mile-wide strip of land from Portugal east to Kenya. At its peak, there will be a light ring around the moon, making for a heavenly donut effect. (Remember, though: Never look directly at an eclipse — use special solar filters to protect your eyes.)
November 7 Mars glows. The red planet will be directly opposite the sun and at its most visible today.
December 13 Geminid Meteor Shower. Another deluge, this one in the Gemini constellation. Look toward the south about 90 minutes after sunset. —E.G.