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

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!

Photo by Mike Marrah on Unsplash

The "Big 5" is an old term from the colonial era, denoting the five wild animals in Africa that were the most sought-after kills for trophy hunters. Killing those five—lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and Cape buffalo—meant ultimate success in the big-game hunting world.

Now there's a "New Big 5," but instead of a barbaric goal for trophy hunters, it's a beautiful goal for wildlife photographers.

The initiative was created by British wildlife photographer Graeme Green with the goal of raising awareness about threats to the world's animals including habitat loss, poaching, illegal animal trade, and climate change. In a global call for votes, 50,000 wildlife lovers shared which animals they most wanted to photograph or see in photos. And the winners are:

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Photo by Mike Marrah on Unsplash

The "Big 5" is an old term from the colonial era, denoting the five wild animals in Africa that were the most sought-after kills for trophy hunters. Killing those five—lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and Cape buffalo—meant ultimate success in the big-game hunting world.

Now there's a "New Big 5," but instead of a barbaric goal for trophy hunters, it's a beautiful goal for wildlife photographers.

The initiative was created by British wildlife photographer Graeme Green with the goal of raising awareness about threats to the world's animals including habitat loss, poaching, illegal animal trade, and climate change. In a global call for votes, 50,000 wildlife lovers shared which animals they most wanted to photograph or see in photos. And the winners are:

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True

Each year, an estimated 1.8 million people in the United States are affected by cancer — most commonly cancers of the breast, lung, prostate, and blood cancers such as leukemia. While not everyone overcomes the disease, thanks to science, more people are surviving — and for longer — than ever before in history.

We asked three people whose lives have been impacted by cancer to share their stories – how their lives were changed by the disease, and how they're using that experience to change the future of cancer treatments with the hope that ultimately, in the fight against cancer, science will win. Here's what they had to say.

Celine Ryan, 55, engineer database programmer and mother of five from Detroit, MI

Photo courtesy of Celine Ryan

In September 2013, Celine Ryan woke up from a colonoscopy to some traumatic news. Her gastroenterologist showed her a picture of the cancerous mass they found during the procedure.

Ryan and her husband, Patrick, had scheduled a colonoscopy after discovering some unusual bleeding, so the suspicion she could have cancer was already there. Neither of them, however, were quite prepared for the results to be positive -- or for the treatment to begin so soon. Just two days after learning the news, Ryan had surgery to remove the tumor, part of her bladder, and 17 cancerous lymph nodes. Chemotherapy and radiation soon followed.

Ryan's treatment was rigorous – but in December 2014, she got the devastating news that the cancer, once confined to her colon, had spread to her lungs. Her prognosis, they said, was likely terminal.

But rather than give up hope, Ryan sought support from online research, fellow cancer patients and survivors, and her medical team. When she brought up immunotherapy to her oncologist, he quickly agreed it was the best course of action. Ryan's cancer, like a majority of colon and pancreatic cancers, had been caused by a defect on the gene KRAS, which can result in a very aggressive cancer that is virtually "undruggable." According to the medical literature, the relatively smooth protein structure of the KRAS gene meant that designing inhibitors to bind to surface grooves and treat the cancer has been historically difficult. Through her support systems, Ryan discovered an experimental immunotherapy trial at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD., and called them immediately to see if she was eligible. After months of trying to determine whether she was a suitable candidate for the experimental treatment, Ryan was finally accepted.

The treatment, known as tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte therapy, or TIL, is a testament to how far modern science has evolved. With this therapy, doctors remove a tumor and harvest special immune cells that are found naturally in the tumor. Doctors then grow the cells in a lab over the next several weeks with a protein that promotes rapid TIL growth – and once the cells number into the billions, they are infused back into the patient's body to fight the cancer. On April 1, 2015, Ryan had her tumor removed at the NIH. Two months later, she went inpatient for four weeks to have the team "wash out" her immune system with chemotherapy and infuse the cells – all 148 billion of them – back into her body.

Six weeks after the infusion, Ryan and Patrick went back for a follow-up appointment – and the news they got was stunning: Not only had no new tumors developed, but the six existing tumors in her lungs had shrunk significantly. Less than a year after her cell infusion, in April 2016, the doctors told Ryan news that would have been impossible just a decade earlier: Thanks to the cell infusion, Ryan was now considered NED – no evaluable disease. Her body was cancer-free.

Ryan is still NED today and continuing annual follow-up appointments at the NIH, experiencing things she never dreamed she'd be able to live to see, such as her children's high school and college graduations. She's also donating her blood and cells to the NIH to help them research other potential cancer treatments. "It was an honor to do so," Ryan said of her experience. "I'm just thrilled, and I hope my experience can help a lot more people."

Patrice Lee, PhD, VP of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Exploratory Development at Pfizer

Photo courtesy of Patrice Lee

Patrice Lee got into scientific research in an unconventional way – through the late ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.

Lee never met Cousteau but her dreams of working with him one day led her to pursue a career in science. Initially, Lee completed an undergraduate degree in marine biology; eventually, her interests changed and she decided to get a dual doctoral degree in physiology and toxicology at Duke University. She now works at Pfizer's R&D site in Boulder, CO (formerly Array BioPharma), leading a group of scientists who determine the safety and efficacy of new oncology drugs.

"Scientists focused on drug discovery and development in the pharmaceutical industry are deeply committed to inventing new therapies to meet unmet needs," Lee says, describing her field of work. "We're driven to achieve new medicines and vaccines as quickly as possible without sacrificing safety."

Among the drugs Lee has helped develop during her career, including cancer therapies, she says around a dozen are currently in development, while nine have received FDA approval — an incredible accomplishment as many scientists spend their careers without seeing their drug make it to market. Lee's team is particularly interested in therapies for brain metastases — something that Lee says is a largely unmet need in cancer research, and something her team is working on from a variety of angles. "Now that we've had rapid success with mRNA vaccine technology, we hope to explore what the future holds when applying this technology to cancers," Lee says.

But while evaluating potential cancer therapies is a professional passion of Lee's, it's also a mission that's deeply personal. "I'm also a breast cancer survivor," she says. "So I've been on the other side of things and have participated in a clinical trial."

However, seeing how melanoma therapies that she helped develop have affected other real-life cancer patients, she says, has been a highlight of her career. "We had one therapy that was approved for patients with BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma," Lee recalls. "Our team in Boulder was graced by a visit from a patient that had benefited from these drugs that we developed. It was a very special moment for the entire team."

None of these therapies would be available, Lee says without rigorous science behind it: "Facts come from good science. Facts will drive the development of new drugs, and that's what will help patients."

Chiuying "Cynthia" Kuk (they/them) MS, 34, third-year medical student at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

Photo courtesy of Cynthia Kuk

Cynthia Kuk was just 10 years old when they had a conversation that would change their life forever.

"My mother, who worked as a translator for the government at the time, had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and after her chemotherapy treatments she would get really sick," Kuk, who uses they/them pronouns, recalls. "When I asked my dad why mom was puking so much, he said it was because of the medicine she was taking that would help her get better."

Kuk's response was immediate: "That's so stupid! Why would a medicine make you feel worse instead of better? When I'm older, I want to create medicine that won't make people sick like that."

Nine years later, Kuk traveled from their native Hong Kong to the United States to do exactly that. Kuk enrolled in a small, liberal arts college for their Bachelor's degree, and then four years later started a PhD program in cancer research. Although Kuk's mother was in remission from her cancer at the time, Kuk's goal was the same as it had been as a 10-year-old watching her suffer through chemotherapy: to design a better cancer treatment, and change the landscape of cancer research forever.

Since then, Kuk's mission has changed slightly.

"My mom's cancer relapsed in 2008, and she ended up passing away about five years after that," Kuk says. "After my mom died, I started having this sense of urgency. Cancer research is such that you work for twenty years, and at the end of it you might have a fancy medication that could help people, but I wanted to help people now." With their mother still at the forefront of their mind, Kuk decided to quit their PhD program and enter medical school.

Now, Kuk plans to pursue a career in emergency medicine – not only because they are drawn to the excitement of the emergency room, but because the ER is a place where the most marginalized people tend to seek care.

"I have a special interest in the LGBTQ+ population, as I identify as queer and nonbinary," says Kuk. "A lot of people in this community and other marginalized communities access care through the ER and also tend to avoid medical care since there is a history of mistreatment and judgement from healthcare workers. How you carry yourself as a doctor, your compassion, that can make a huge difference in someone's care."

In addition to making a difference in the lives of LGBTQ+ patients, Kuk wants to make a difference in the lives of patients with cancer as well, like their mother had.

"We've diagnosed patients in the Emergency Department with cancer before," Kuk says. "I can't make cancer good news but how you deliver bad news and the compassion you show could make a world of difference to that patient and their family."

During their training, Kuk advocates for patients by delivering compassionate and inclusive care, whether they happen to have cancer or not. In addition to emphasizing their patient's pronouns and chosen names, they ask for inclusive social and sexual histories as well as using gender neutral language. In doing this, they hope to make medicine as a whole more accessible for people who have been historically pushed aside.

"I'm just one person, and I can't force everyone to respect you, if you're marginalized," Kuk says. "But I do want to push for a culture where people appreciate others who are different from them."