Last year’s celestial events captivated stargazers new and old with beautiful meteor showers and stunning supermoons. These days, life on Earth feels a bit chaotic and unpredictable, so looking to the skies can feel surprisingly calming and grounding. Stargazing is an amazing reminder of how small we all are in the grand scheme of things. 2022 is packed with opportunities to view exciting celestial events, and now is a great time to start planning an outdoor adventure that includes some stellar stargazing.
Here are seven celestial events to mark on your calendar.
Black Moon: April 30
Have you heard the term ‘Black Moon’ before? Its definition is not widely agreed upon, but it’s an interesting phenomenon–it’s when there is a second new moon in the same month. These are somewhat rare, occurring about once every 29 months. Technically, you cannot see the new moon itself, not even with a telescope. However, this is a great time for stargazing. There’s no light being thrown by the moon, so the view of the cosmos is even clearer than usual.
Total Lunar Eclipse: May 15 to 16
We are in for a treat this year in North America as the entire contiguous U.S. will likely be able to see the moon passing through Earth’s shadow on the night of May 15 into May 16. The moon will glow blood-red as it reflects the sun’s rays passing through Earth’s atmosphere. Check out this map to determine the optimal viewing time based on your location. The second total lunar eclipse this year will take place on November 8, so mark your calendars for that one as well.
First Supermoon: June 14
2022 has three supermoons in store, the first of which will take place on June 14. What makes supermoons so special? It’s when the full moon coincides with the moon’s closest approach to Earth in its orbit. This is called perigee. These typically happen a few times a year and appear consecutively–so keep your eyes peeled for the second on July 13 and the third on August 12. The best part of the supermoon? The moon appears 17% larger and 30% brighter! It can also cause higher-than-usual tides because the moon is closer to Earth than usual.
Supermoons are a great time to plan a camping trip. Many popular hiking trails host headlamp-clad hikers for night-time adventures.
Five Planets Align: June 24
Prepare to be dazzled: in late June, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn will line up in a row visible all across North America. Smithsonian Magazine reports that you can start observing this phenomenon as early as June 19, while AccuWeather notes the optimal time will be right before the sun comes up on June 24. You’ll also be able to spot the crescent moon right between Venus and Mars. If you have a telescope and are far enough from light pollution, you may be lucky enough to spot Uranus as well.
Perseid Meteor Shower: August 12 to 13
This year, the Perseids will take place right after a supermoon, so the night sky will be brighter than usual and may wash out some of the meteors you’d typically see. While most years you can see 150 to 200 meteors an hour, there will likely be fewer visible this year. Catch what you can by waiting until the last few hours before dawn to stargaze–that way, the moon will have set, but the sun won’t have risen yet.
Fireballs in the Fall: November 11 to 12
According to the American Meteor Society, the Northern Taurids meteor shower tends to be unusually active every seven years or so. “2008 and 2015 both produced remarkable fireball activity,” AMS notes. Early on the morning of November 12, be on the lookout for incredibly bright fireballs lighting up the sky for just a few seconds each!
Geminid Meteor Shower: December 13 to 14
The Geminids are another great opportunity to see shooting stars. As with the Perseids, the moon will be nearly full again, but viewers may still see 30 to 40 meteors per hour. Watching from a darker area with less light pollution is best; step outside just before midnight on the night of December 13 before the moon rises, or catch it in those just-before-dawn hours once the moon has set.
Campgrounds for Stunning Stargazing
Once you’ve picked out which celestial events you’d like to watch, it’s time to plan your outdoor camping adventure! These stargazing events will be fun for the whole family to watch, whether you’re glamping or cozying up in a tent.
What better place to see the stars far away from light pollution than Alaska? Salmon Run has RV sites, tent sites, and cozy cabins. Everything is tucked away into the mountainside and is relatively private from one another. There are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy, and it’s a perfect place to take in the night sky.
This beautiful campground is located far from any light pollution, and situated on Hogan Pond in lower Maine. They’ve got tent sites and RV sites to choose from, and you can watch the stars right from the beach.
Located within driving distance of beloved spots like Big Bend National Park, Terlingua Ghost Town, and Big Bend Ranch State Park, this campground boasts plenty of open space for spreading out and enjoying nature. Even better, they are within a Dark Skies Region, meaning the conditions for stargazing are top notch!
This incredible campground is perfect for families. With glamping tents, luxury cabins, RV sites, and tons of amenities, they’ve got something for everyone. In the evenings, kick back and enjoy the scenic skies above the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.
For optimal viewing of these fascinating celestial events, you’ll want to head out to nature. Get planning now! Mark your calendar, check Campspot, and get ready to stargaze.
Emily Hessney Lynch is a small business owner, reader, and writer. She lives in upstate New York with her husband and their three rescue dogs. They love getting outside year-round and enjoy paddle boarding, hiking, and snowshoeing. You can follow her on Instagram at @servemethesky.
Photo credit in order of appearance: Adobe Stock – Lansa, Tyler Way, Adobe Stock – Marek, Adobe Stock – Craig Taylor Photo, Salmon Run Campground & Cabins, Tyler Way, Tyler Way, Tyler Way