An RVer's Guide to Epic Celestial Events in 2023

Jason Takacs and his family sitting around a campfire under a starry night sky

With so much happening in the night sky in 2023, we wanted to provide a complete list of amazing celestial events that are happening this year. From small particles of dust streaming through the atmosphere to our own Moon moving in front of the Sun, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we'll help you find the best celestial events to see while out on an RV adventure. It's definitely going to be an exciting year for camping under the stars!

Alison Takacs sets up a shot of her Jayco RV and the night sky

2023 Celestial Events

Best Meteor Showers Of 2023

One of our favorite celestial events to see while RVing is a meteor shower. There's nothing quite like watching a spectacular, free firework show while sitting in front of our Jayco Jay Flight. Of course, some showers are more dynamic and spectacular than others, so we’ve listed the most interesting ones that are definitely worth watching.

What Is A Meteor Shower?

In space, there are objects such as comets, asteroids and other celestial bodies that commonly shed small particles. These small particles, or meteoroids, can be little rocks or even tiny specks of dust that sometimes head towards Earth. When a meteoroid enters the Earth's atmosphere, it becomes reclassified as a meteor. As it races through the sky, it begins to heat up by thousands of degrees and speeds up by tens of thousands of miles per hour. This creates a bright light that you can see moving across the night sky. When enough of these meteors enter the Earth's atmosphere around the same date, you get what is called a meteor shower. Sometimes you’ll see a long flash or streak, which is when the meteor enters the Earth’s atmosphere and begins to burn or vaporize. This light streak is what many people call a shooting star.

Low luminance lights on Jason and Alison Takacs RV

What Are The Best Meteor Showers To See In 2023?

This year you can expect to see three of the best meteor showers at perfect times of the year. Plus, RVing will open up your ability to enjoy these meteor showers since you’ll be able to pick a darker sky to see more of these streaming beauties. We have selected the Lyrids, Perseids, and the Geminids as the best meteor showers in 2023. 

The Lyrids

First up are the Lyrids. This meteor shower is well-known for producing beautiful, vibrant fireballs. The Lyrid meteor shower will start around mid-April and continue until late April. The actual peak is between April 22nd and 23rd. Since the Moon will only be about nine percent full, this meteor shower should be a great one to see with minimal moonlight interference. Since meteor showers are named after the location in the sky where they appear to originate from, you’ll notice that this shower will look like it’s shooting from the constellation Lyra. If you aren't sure where that constellation is, don't stress! Just download an app on your phone, such as SkyView or SkySafari, and you’ll easily be able to find it.

The Perseids

Another must-see meteor shower this year is the Perseids. Between mid-July and early September, the Perseids light up the night sky with roughly 50 to 75 meteors per hour. They appear to originate from the constellation of Perseus and are a treat for us to see while on summer RV trips. Our kids are always amazed at the sheer volume of meteors we can observe during this shower under dark skies. The Perseids will peak between August 12th and 13th while the Moon will only be about 10 percent full. Try to get away from city lights and find a dark sky location for optimal viewing.

The Geminids

The Geminids is, quite possibly, the best meteor shower of the year. And even better is that it will peak during a New Moon! Mark your calendar for December 13th and 14th when the Geminids will be on full display with streaming bright colors. Appearing to originate from the constellation Gemini, you can see over 100 meteors an hour during this event! The great thing about this meteor shower is they can easily be seen before midnight, so you won't have to stay up late to be amazed. 

Pro tip: Brave the cold during the Geminids with a heated blanket and a warm drink.

Perseids Meteor captured above Alison Takacs RV

How Can I Best Observe A Meteor Shower?

Observing a meteor shower is super simple. Since you will see more meteors in a darker location with less light pollution, find a spot to camp away from city lights. After the sun has set, bring out your camping chairs, a warm blanket and focus on the sky. Remember that it takes about 20 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the night, so be patient if you don't see many meteors at first. To help with visibility, we highly recommend that you turn off any string lights and any exterior lights on your RV when visiting a dark sky campground. Not only will you have a better experience enjoying the night sky but this is also courteous for the fellow campers and RVers around you. If you do need a light source, bring a headlamp, flashlight or lantern that can be dimmed.

Pro tip: Wrap a cloth or a pillowcase around your flashlight if it doesn't have a dimmer setting.

Some Other Major Meteor Showers In 2023

The Orionids 

You can also give the Orionids a shot, which originate in the constellation Orion and peak between October 20th and 21st. This shower typically has a rate of 10 to 20 meteors per hour, but the Moon will be about 36 percent full so visibility may be slightly limited.

Pro tip: You don't need to look towards the radiant point of the meteor shower to see all of the meteors—try looking around in all directions.

The Taurids 

The Southern Taurids peak between November 4th and 5th from the constellation Taurus and have between five and 10 meteors per hour. However, the Moon will be a little more than half full during this time so you may not be able to see them. Another option is to view the Northern Taurids, which peak a week later during November 11th and 12th. There will also be a New Moon during this time, so the sky should be nice and dark. You might not know which of the two Taurids you are viewing since they often overlap. All you need to know is that the Taurids are perfect if you want to see some absolutely amazing fireballs!

The Ursids and Quadrantids 

At the end of the year, there are the Ursids and Quadrantids that will take place during December. This year, both of these meteor showers have peaks when the Moon is more than half full, so we don't recommend spending too much time trying to find shooting stars. Instead, see what you can see, and then go inside and enjoy the comfort of your warm RV.

Annular Solar Eclipse In 2023

If you are ready to see the most interesting celestial event of 2023, plan to go RVing on Saturday, October 14th. Multiple states in the Western U.S. will experience what we consider to be the most fascinating of the three types of solar eclipses: an annular solar eclipse. Sometimes called a "ring of fire," this eclipse is extremely magical in appearance (and also a bit eerie) since it looks like a glowing ring around the dark Moon. An annular solar eclipse occurs when the Moon doesn't completely cover up the Sun because it's at one of the further points away from the Earth. This happens because the Moon orbits the Earth along an elliptical path, so the Moon is just a little too small to block all of the Sun.

An annular solar eclipse is different from a total solar eclipse and a partial solar eclipse. While all three eclipse types occur when the Moon passes between the Earth and Sun to cast a shadow on the Earth, the way each one lines up can give us a unique viewing experience. A total solar eclipse is exactly like it sounds: the Moon covers up the Sun and blocks out all light for a short time. A partial solar eclipse is when the Moon only partially covers up the Sun.

A lunar Eclipse capture by Alison Takacs

The path of the annual solar eclipse in October will begin in Oregon in the morning and continue diagonally until it leaves America across Texas just after noon. There are plenty of places to witness this event, including national parks, public land and private campgrounds. The sooner you reserve your RVing location, the better. Eclipses are always epic experiences to be enjoyed in nature, so start planning as soon as possible.

It’s worth noting that the best part of an annular solar eclipse only lasts about five minutes, so you'll want to come prepared. The most important thing is to make sure you have protection for your eyes. Normal sunglasses won’t work for safely viewing an eclipse—you’ll need to pick up a pair of certified safe solar glasses.

Alison Takacs using solar glasses with her son

Pro tip: Anytime you are photographing the sun for an extended period of time, be sure and use a solar filter on your camera to avoid damaging the lens. 

Lunar Eclipse In 2023

If you won't make it to the West Coast to see the annular solar eclipse, there is still an eclipse you can enjoy on the East Coast. A partial lunar eclipse will occur in the afternoon on Saturday, October 28th. Some of the best places to view this are in North or South Carolina, or anywhere slightly north of these states along the coast.

Similar to a solar eclipse, there are both total and partial lunar eclipses (but no annular lunar eclipses). The biggest difference is that instead of the Moon passing between the Earth and the Sun, the Earth passes between the Sun and the Moon and casts its shadow on the Moon.

Planetary Conjunctions In 2023

A planetary conjunction is when two planets or celestial objects appear to line-up and merge together in the night sky with less than one degree of separation. Back in December 2020, Jupiter and Saturn had such a notable and bright conjunction that the media dubbed it the “Christmas Star.” And while 2023 doesn’t have any conjunctions that are quite as bright as the Christmas Star, there are a few that will get close enough.

Pro Tip: If you hold up your pinky while stretching your hand out to arm's length and then close one eye, this will show you what one degree of separation looks like between celestial objects.

What Are The Best Planetary Conjunctions To See In 2023?

Venus and Jupiter

On March 1st and 2nd, you should be able to see one of the best planetary conjunctions of the year. No special equipment, like a telescope or a pair of binoculars, will be necessary to see the conjunction of Venus and Jupiter. This conjunction is located in the constellation Pisces, and should be very easy to spot.

Uranus and Venus

One event we have been wanting to see is when dim Uranus and much brighter Venus get close in the night sky. They will be a little more than a degree apart on March 30th. Grab your binoculars and head to a dark sky location to see this celestial meeting. Because Uranus is relatively faint, it can be difficult to see if you are in a brightly-lit location. After you have found a dark campground, look to the west in the constellation Aries as the sun sets and twilight begins.

Venus, Mars and the Moon

There will be a fascinating appulse (the close approach of two celestial bodies) on June 21st that you won't want to miss. Along the western horizon, in the constellation Cancer, be prepared to see the formation of a triangle in the night sky. Venus, Mars and the Moon will all be separated by just a few degrees for several hours after sunset. 

Supermoons In 2023

A Supermoon is a full moon that is at its closest point to Earth as it travels along its elliptical path. Even though it can sometimes be hard to tell if a Supermoon is any bigger than a regular full moon, they are still fun to see while camping. There are four full Supermoons in 2023 to check out: July 3rd, August 1st, August 31st, and September 29th. While full moons make it harder to see the stars, you’re able to spend time studying all of the amazing features on the Moon’s surface. We enjoy bringing binoculars, a telescope and some long lenses on our full moon camping trips, and have found that the lunar surface can be just as interesting as the stars and planets around it.

Other Notable Celestial Events In 2023

Saturn at Opposition

Would you like to see the rings of Saturn? On Sunday, August 27th, Saturn will be located on the opposite side of Earth compared to the Sun, and it will be at its closest point to us. This means it will be much brighter in the night sky, and it will be easier to see its rings and a few of its moons through a medium-sized telescope.

Jupiter at Opposition 

What about the moons of Jupiter? Certainly not to be left off our list, Friday, November 3rd marks the closest point of Jupiter to Earth. You should only need a small telescope or even a good pair of binoculars to see this event. Look closely and see how many moons you can spot next to our solar system's largest planet. 

We hope we have given you plenty of great excuses to take your RV out on the road this year. With so many celestial events happening in 2023, you are bound to enjoy something great no matter the season you are camping. Also, keep your ears peeled for other future celestial events that might popup in the future, including potential comets that are yet to be spotted.

Travel Trailers

Travel trailers are the most popular type of non-motorized RV. No doubt you’ve seen one pulled down the highway hitched to a car or pickup. Travel trailers come in all sizes including tiny jellybean-shaped models with a chuckwagon kitchen in the rear to the massive house-on-wheels with picture windows and a sliding glass patio door.

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