19 amazing things you don't want to miss in the night sky in 2016.

Eclipses and meteors and supermoons, oh my!

If you're a night owl who loves stargazing, 2016 is going to be a busy year for you. This year is packed full of remarkable sights — including three supermoons, two eclipses, and dozens of meteor showers. Some of them you'll need a telescope or binoculars to see, but many are visible with your naked eye alone.

Here are the things we'll be watching for in the night sky through the rest of 2016:


1. In March, Jupiter will come closer to Earth than it ever will in the next two years.

Image by NASA, ESA, and A. Simon/Wikimedia Commons.

On March 8, Jupiter reaches opposition (astronomy-speak for "the time when its orbit around the sun brings it closest to Earth"). You’ll be able to see the planet through binoculars or a telescope — if you have the latter you might be able to see its moons or the Great Red Spot).

Then on March 9, skywatchers in parts of Sumatra and Indonesia can grab their pinhole projectors to watch 2016's only total solar eclipse. If you're not able to grab a last-minute ticket to Palembang — don't worry. The next total solar eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017 will be visible across a huge part of the United States.

2. Break out your macro lenses to photograph April's "minimoon."

Image by NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre/Flickr.

There are three "supermoons" in 2016, but only one "minimoon." On April 21, the moon will be at "apogee," its furthest point from Earth. That's about 10,000 more miles away than normal and 30,000 more miles away than during a "supermoon."

On April 9, skywatchers with powerful telescopes will be able to see the planet Uranus as it reaches "conjunction" and starts to pass behind the sun. This is the perfect time to brush off your best "Uranus" jokes from fourth grade (to get you started, here's one of my personal favorites).

April 22 will bring the peak of the Lyrid meteor shower. Like August's Perseid meteor shower, these meteors are bright, slightly blue, and often leave long trails. In an average year, about 10-15 meteors can be spotted in the sky, but it may be harder to see them this time because of the full moon.

3. In May, Mercury will transit the sun for the first time in a decade.

Image via ESA/NASA/SOHO.

Skywatchers in the southern hemisphere are in for a treat May 6-7 with the peak of the Eta Aquarid meteor shower. This shower is usually good for about 30 meteors an hour — but you might be able to see even more since it's happening during a new moon when the skies will be much darker.

One of the most anticipated astronomical events of 2016 will happen on May 9, when the planet Mercury passes in front of the sun for the first time in a decade! Mercury is tiny, so you won't be able to see its path across the sun with the naked eye or through a pinhole projector — you'll need a refracting telescope or one with a solar filter. Definitely do not stare directly into the sun trying to see it. Check out your local astronomy center or skywatching group to see if they're doing public viewings, or if you can wait, NASA will have plenty of photos afterward — like this collection from 2012's transit of Venus.

May 21 will bring 2016's first blue moon. Sadly, it won't appear blue (unless Instagram filters count); that's just the name for the second full moon in a month.

On May 22, the planet Mars reaches "opposition," also known as its closest point to Earth of the year. If you have a telescope or binoculars, this will be a good night to break them out and see the red planet in all its glory. The last time it was at opposition was 2003.

4. If you've saved up for binoculars or a telescope, June is a great month to break them in.

Image from NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute.

Like Mars a few weeks earlier, Saturn's orbit will bring it closest to Earth on June 3. Skywatchers with home telescopes or medium-to-high-powered binoculars should be able to see Saturn's famous rings — and maybe even a few of her moons too.

5. Join NASA as Juno reaches Jupiter in July.

Image by NASA, ESA, and A. Simon/Wikimedia Commons.

Our solar system's largest resident will get a new visitor on July 4 with the arrival of NASA's Juno orbiter. Over the next two years, Juno will orbit Jupiter 37 times, collecting information about the planet's atmosphere, magnetosphere, and water content. You can learn more about the mission here.

6. Watch the world's most famous meteor shower in August.

Image by Tucker Hammerstrom/Flickr.

On Aug. 11-12, grab a friend, a blanket, and a bottle of wine and settle in for a late night sky spectacle courtesy of the Perseid meteor shower. Made of dusty bits from comet Swift-Tuttle, Perseid meteors appear as fast-moving bright blue streaks across the night sky.

This year is shaping up to be a particularly great show — some astronomers predict as many as 150 meteors will be visible every hour. Plus, with the moon at only a quarter-full (and setting shortly after midnight for folks in the Northern Hemisphere), the sky will be very dark. As astronomers say: Less light in the sky, more meteors to catch your eye. OK, they don't really say that. But they should.

On Aug. 27, early evening skywatchers will be able check out Venus and Jupiter in conjunction. It's the closest the two bright planets will be visible all year.

7. See an IRL "Ring of Fire" in September's partial solar eclipse.

Looking directly at the "ring of fire" of a partial solar eclipse burns burns burns ... your retinas. Image by Masaru Kamikura/Flickr.

On Sept. 1, skywatchers across Africa will be treated to an annular (or partial) solar eclipse. In this type of eclipse, the moon partially passes between the sun and the Earth, creating what some astronomers call the "ring of fire."

The path of the eclipse crosses Gabon, the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Madagascar, and the tiny island nation of Réunion. In the past, generous astronomers have live-streamed images of eclipses; hopefully someone will do the same this year.

8. The first of three supermoons will rise in October.

Image by Bureau of Land Management/Flickr.

Oct. 16 brings the first of the years' three supermoons. During a supermoon, the moon's orbit brings it closer to Earth, making it appear larger and brighter than usual. It's a great time to dust off your camera and test out some night shots — here are some tips from a veteran lunar photographer.

Oct. 30 will bring 2016's only black moon, also known as the second new moon in a calendar month. If it is a clear night, black moons are a great chance to look for deep sky objects like the Andromeda galaxy or the Orion nebula.

9. Round out 2016 with two meteor showers and two more supermoons.

Image by Joshua Tree National Park/Flickr.

Nov. 14 brings the second supermoon of 2016 and the closest full moon to Earth since 1990. You won't want to miss this one — it's the closest the moon will get to Earth until 2021.

Skywatchers in the northern hemisphere should bundle up warm on Nov. 17 to take in the Leonid meteor shower. These meteors are my favorite every year — they're usually large, yellowish-green, and slow moving as they streak across the sky. The moon will be pretty bright in the night sky, but you can still expect to see about 10-15 meteors per hour.

Dec. 12 is the last full moon of the year and 2016's final supermoon. For astronomy fans, it'll be a mixed blessing since the bright light of the supermoon will blot out some of the Geminid meteor shower two days later. At its peak around 2:00 a.m. local time Dec. 13, the Geminid meteor shower can bring up to 120 meteors an hour into our atmosphere. They burn fast, bold, and bright — not great for photography, but perfect for wishes.

Happy skywatching!

Heroes

I'm staring at my screen watching the President of the United States speak before a stadium full of people in North Carolina. He launches into a lie-laced attack on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, and the crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!"

The President does nothing. Says nothing. He just stands there and waits for the crowd to finish their outburst.

WATCH: Trump rally crowd chants 'send her back' after he criticizes Rep. Ilhan Omar www.youtube.com

My mind flashes to another President of the United States speaking to a stadium full of people in North Carolina in 2016. A heckler in the crowd—an old man in uniform holding up a TRUMP sign—starts shouting, disrupting the speech. The crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!"

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

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