I love how stargazing lets us look back into the recent and distant past just by being open to the starlight. And I love how astronomy lets us predict future events years into the future. This month, I would like to share some of the coming sky events I am most anticipating for the rest of the century. Times are for our Driftless Area. Save the dates!
8 Nov 2022: Total Lunar Eclipse 3:09am-6:49am. There will be more lunar eclipses this decade on 13 Mar 2025, 3 Mar 2026, 25 June 2029, and 20 Dec 2029.
14 Oct 2023. Partial Solar Eclipse 10:33am-1:17pm. If you travel to the path from Oregon to Texas, you can see a “Ring of Fire” Annular Eclipse. Protect your eyes with eclipse glasses.
8 April 2024. Partial Solar Eclipse 12:50pm-3:18pm. If it is at all possible, journey to the eclipse path from Texas to Maine to be awed by a Total Solar Eclipse. It’s really something you should experience once in a lifetime. The path is closest to us as it passes through southeastern Missouri and southern Illinois.
14 Jan 2029. Partial Solar Eclipse 9:51am-12:53pm.
15 Sept 2035. Close approach of Mars to Earth. If it’s cloudy that night, Mars will be just as bright and glowing like an ember all month in the southern sky. Just as close August 2050.
8 Sept 2040. All five visible planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, & Saturn) will be close together in the western evening sky along with a Crescent Moon.
Summer 2061. Halley’s Comet returns after 76 years and will be bright and beautiful after sunset in the northern sky.
10 Nov 2084. Transit of Earth. Head to Mars to be wowed by Earth and Moon passing in front of the Sun.
14 Sept 2099. Total Solar Eclipse passes through the Driftless Area on a Monday morning!
Those are the predicted events. But there are so many other random events like northern lights and meteors and comets and maybe even a supernova that are more challenging to predict. I appreciate that not everyone reading this will remain in life long enough for all these events. But we all know younger people with us now who will be there to greet the twenty-second century. I hope they are watching for us. I hope they remember us as good ancestors. I hope we are all outside looking up as much as possible to be awed by the dark skies of the Driftless.
There are public programs to enjoy evening stargazing at Wyalusing State Park on August 20, September 17, and October 29. Wildcat Mountain State Park has public astronomy programs on August 20 and October 8. You can enjoy dark and starry skies anytime on the public land of the Kickapoo Valley Reserve and Lower Wisconsin State Riverway.
John Heasley is an astronomy educator and stargazer who enjoys connecting people with the cosmos. He volunteers with NASA/JPL as a Solar System Ambassador , with the International Dark-Sky Association as an Advocate, and the International Astronomical Union as a Dark Sky Ambassador. For more information about stargazing in southwest WI, like Driftless Stargazing LLC on Facebook and find out whenever there’s something awesome happening in the skies. Driftless Dark Skies appears monthly in the Voice of the River Valley.
Find a scenic drive in the Driftless Region of Wisconsin along the winding highways and through charming midwest communities.
Driftless Wisconsin is one of the most beautiful places to explore, and it’s even better when you can pet friendly stays.
When picnicking in the Driftless region’s parks there are plenty of opportunities to hang a hammock, throw down a blanket, and enjoy.