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4 Best Stargazing Sights and How to See Them

By Joe Rao | SPACE.com

Of all the great and wondrous things that we can view in our sky, in my opinion the top four are (in descending order of merit) a total eclipse of the sun, a beautiful manifestation of the northern lights, a real "shower" of shooting stars and a great comet with a long tail. 

With any luck (and some good weather), all four of theseskywatching sights may be readily available to us in the near future. Here is a list of the Top 4 and when we might expect to see them:


A total eclipse of the sun

It lasts only a few minutes. It occurs on average just once every 18 months, and then has a perverse habit of taking place over Earth’s most remote, inhospitable places. Yet people will travel to the ends of the Earth, sparing no expense or trouble, to see it. [Solar Eclipses: An Observer's Guide (Infographic)]

You haven’t really lived until you’ve experienced a total solar eclipse. But beware! This is not something you can just put on your bucket list to do just once in your life and be satisfied. It’s addictive; once you’ve see one, you’ll want to see them all.

The next total solar eclipse will occur later this year, on Nov. 3. But before you start packing your suitcase, be advised that the eclipse track for this event starts out over the open waters of the Atlantic midway between Bermuda and Puerto Rico and heads east, ultimately passing south of the Cape Verde Islands, then curves southeastward parallel to the African coastline.  

The path width will reach a maximum of just 36 miles (58 kilometers) about 250 miles (402 km) off the coast of Liberia, where the sun will be totally eclipsed for 100 seconds. The shadow track will then sweep across central Africa, passing over sections of Gabon, Congo, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Kenya, before ending at sunset at the Ethiopia-Somalia border — not where most people would think of taking the wife and kids for a weekend jaunt. ...more



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