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Stargazers in North America Get Ready for Eventful 2024

Stargazers in North America should start getting ready because they will have much to watch for in 2024. People are excitedly waiting for two comets, 12 meteor showers, two lunar eclipses, an asteroid, and most excitingly a solar eclipse over parts of the U.S.

Comets are beautiful and become easier to see as they approach Earth. Comets are snowballs of frozen gasses, dust, and rocks. As they travel through our solar system, they leave an icy dust trail. If the comet is close enough to the sun, it creates a mesmerizing, sparkling show. Comets are seen when they link up with Earth’s rotation around the sun. One of the best-known is Halley’s Comet, which was the first comet to be photographed. Halley’s Comet was photographed by multiple spacecraft in 1986. Comets are mainly named by the person or spacecraft who discovered them. Halley’s Comet is named after Edmind Halley, an astronomer.

Comets are also responsible for meteor showers when the debris of the comet's trail hits the atmosphere gets warmed up and shows bright streaks. If it’s a full moon you won’t be able to see meteors as well due to the moonlight.

Asteroids are like comets, but they’re made mostly of rocks and have little to no ice or gasses. In January, an asteroid named 2022YHE was tracked nearing Earth, 4.52 million miles away. If we put it into perspective, “it’s like seeing the Statue of Liberty flying through space about 19 times as far away as the moon.”

A solar eclipse is a relatively rare phenomenon that happens when the Moon moves between the sun and Earth. We will see one on April 8, 2024. In one type of solar eclipse, the Moon will partially cover the sun’s light and from Earth, the observer can see a fiery red ring around the Moon. This is known as an annular solar eclipse.

Lunar eclipses are different from solar eclipses. They occur when the sun’s shadow covers the Moon and the Earth aligns between the sun and the Moon. This causes the shadow to cover most of the Moon, making it appear redder.

This year promises to be an exciting year for stargazers in North America. While looking at the sky we will get a reminder of all the wonderful things going on outside of our planet. So mark your calendars and prepare your telescopes.

[Sources: Popular Mechanics; Scientific American]

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