Forget all the apocalyptic hoopla surrounding 2012. I admit, I'm intrigued, but because of all the exciting things happening in the sky.
January 3, 4 - Quadrantids Meteor Shower. The Quadrantids are an above average shower, with up to 40 meteors per hour at their peak. The shower usually peaks on January 3 & 4, but some meteors can be visible from January 1 - 5. The near first quarter moon will set shortly after midnight, leaving dark skies for what should be a good show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Look for meteors radiating from the constellation Bootes.
March 14 - Conjunction of Venus and Jupiter. The two bright planets will be within 3 degrees of each other in the evening sky.
April 21, 22 - Lyrids Meteor Shower. The Lyrids are an average shower, usually producing about 20 meteors per hour at their peak. These meteors can produce bright dust trails that last for several seconds. The shower usually peaks on April 21 & 22, although some meteors can be visible from April 16 - 25. With no moon to get in the way this year, this really should be a good show. Look for meteors radiating from the constellation of Lyra after midnight.
May 20 - Annular Solar Eclipse. The path of annularity will begin in southern China and move east through Japan, the northern Pacific Ocean, and into the western United States. A partial eclipse will be visible throughout parts of eastern Asia and most of North America. (NASA Map and Eclipse Information)
June 4 - Partial Lunar Eclipse. The eclipse will be visible throughout most of Asia, Australia, the Pacific Ocean, and the Americas. (NASA Map and Eclipse Information)
****June 5, 6 - Transit of Venus Across the Sun. This extremely rare event will be entirely visible throughout most of eastern Asia, eastern Australia, and Alaska. A partial transit can be seen in progress at sunrise throughout Europe, western Asia, and eastern Africa. A partial transit can be seen in progress at sunset throughout most of North America, Central America, and western South America. The next transit will not take place until the year 2117. (NASA Transit Information | NASA Transit Map)
More info including viewing times and locations. ****
July 28, 29 - Southern Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower. The Delta Aquarids can produce about 20 meteors per hour at their peak. The shower usually peaks on July 28 & 29, but some meteors can also be seen from July 18 - August 18. The radiant point for this shower will be in the constellation Aquarius. The near first quarter moon will set shortly after midnight, leaving dark skies for what should be a good show. Best viewing is usually to the east after midnight.
November 13 - Total Solar Eclipse. The path of totality will only be visible in parts of extreme northern Australia and the southern Pacific Ocean. A partial eclipse will be visible in most parts of eastern Australia and New Zealand.
(NASA Map and Eclipse Information)
December 21 - December Solstice. The December solstice occurs at 11:12 UTC. The South Pole of the earth will be tilted toward the Sun, which will have reached its northernmost position in the sky and will be directly over the Tropic of Capricorn at 23.44 degrees south latitude. This is the first day of winter (winter solstice) in the northern hemisphere and the first day of summer (summer solstice) in the southern hemisphere.Also, the world ends. (only kidding)