Pacific Northwest Stargazing Calendar 2023: Solar Eclipse, Blue Supermoon Will Shine


A solar eclipse, meteor showers and big moons are in store for 2023, ready to dazzle all who crane their necks skyward.

The astronomical events calendar for 2023 may be lacking in lunar eclipses and great conjunctions, but it does include some big cosmic shows as well as choice conditions for seeing them.

Biggest of all will be the annular solar eclipse coming Oct. 14, in which the sun will appear as a “ring of fire” as the event passes over southwest Oregon on its way across the Americas. There should also be favorable conditions for viewing the famed Perseid meteor shower in August, which typically produces up to 100 meteors per hour. August will also see two super moons, making it a super blue moon month.

More experienced stargazers may also be excited about events like the approach of comet C/2022 E3 on February 1 or Saturn at opposition on August 27, while everybody should be able to enjoy the big shows.

Here’s what to look out for this year:

Jan. 3-4

Quadrantid Meteor Shower

A short but powerful meteor shower, the Quadrantids typically peak at 25 meteors per hour for only about six hours. The peak of this year’s event will be drowned out by a nearly full moon.

April 22-23

Lyrid Meteor Shower

A medium-strength meteor shower, the Lyrids produce bright meteors that can produce nice fireballs. The shower’s peak this year coincides with a crescent moon, making the skies darker, which will set around 11 p.m.

May 5-6

Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower

A full moon will spoil the peak of this medium-strength meteor shower, which is best viewed in the southern hemisphere anyway.

July 30-31

Delta Aquarid Meteor Shower

Another meteor shower that is stronger in the southern hemisphere, the Delta Aquarids will produce high rates of faint meteors for about a week around its peak at the end of July. A nearly full moon that lasts through the night will make them even harder to see.

July 30-31

Alpha Capricornid Meteor Shower

Known for its small number of bright fireballs, the Alpha Capricornids will peak at the same time as the Delta Aquarids, both largely spoiled the light of the moon.

Aug. 1


“Supermoon” is a term used to describe a full moon that is near its closest approach to Earth, appearing larger and brighter than normal (though the difference may be difficult to discern). The Aug. 1 full moon will be the first of two “supermoons” in 2023.

Aug. 12-13

Perseid Meteor Shower

This should be a pretty good year for the popular Perseids, which will run from July 14 to Sept. 1, peaking on Aug. 12-13. This meteor shower typically produces up to 100 meteors per hour, making it one of the strongest on the calendar. With a waning crescent moon that promises mostly dark skies, and with peak days that fall over a weekend, the Perseid meteor shower is the can’t-miss meteor shower of the year.

Aug. 31

Blue Supermoon

The second of two “supermoons” in 2023 comes in the same month of the first, making it a “blue moon” as well. That doesn’t mean much in the grand scale of the cosmos, but “blue supermoon” has a pretty nice ring to it.

Oct. 14

Annular Solar Eclipse

Unlike the total solar eclipse that passed over Oregon in 2017, this year’s annular solar eclipse won’t block the sun out completely, leaving a so-called “ring of fire” still visible around the edges. The eclipse will make first landfall on the Oregon coast around 9:15 a.m., passing over Eugene and Crater Lake on its way to the southeast. Make sure you wear protective eclipse glasses to view the event.

Oct. 20-21

Orionid Meteor Shower

Typically a low-strength shower, the Orionids have been known to produce spectacular shows on occasion, sometimes on par with the Perseids. With an early moonset on Oct. 20, there should be good skies to see them.

Nov. 17-18

Leonid Meteor Shower

There won’t be any major Leonids events until 2099, and no good showers until around 2030, though the annual shower still produces peaks of around 15 meteors per hour. A crescent moon will help skywatchers, as will an early moonset around 8:30 p.m.

Dec. 13-14

Geminid Meteor Shower

The Geminids are usually the strongest meteor shower of the year, with bright and intensely colored meteors that number roughly 120 per hour – though they are often obscured by cloudy skies here in the Pacific Northwest. If the clouds break, conditions are otherwise prime, with a crescent moon that sets around dusk.

Dec. 21-22

Ursid Meteor Shower

Peaking in the middle of winter holidays, and coming off the heels of the spectacular Geminids, the Ursids are often an overlooked event – though with an average rate of only 5 to 10 meteors per hour during the shower’s peak, there’s not a lot to miss. A gibbous moon that sets after midnight makes this a poor year for the Ursids anyway.