Stargazing 2023: When and where to see planets, comets and eclipses this year

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Prepare for liftoff, armchair astronauts: 2023 promises to be an enchanting year for sky-gazing enthusiasts, with fiery eclipses, annual equinox celebrations and blazing meteor showers happening almost every month. 

Whether you’re a traveler willing to make the trek to experience the celestial sublime or a backyard astronomer searching for “shooting stars” (meteors, which burn up in Earth’s atmosphere), there’s something on the calendar to make your year sparkle.

Look up: here are all the happenings you won’t want to miss. 

The snake shadow appears on El Castillo on the spring equinox, Chichén Itzá, Yucatán, MexicoOn the spring equinox, the light falling on Chichén Itzá’s El Castillo pyramid creates a serpentine shadow © BornaMir / iStockphoto / Getty Images

March 20: The spring equinox 

The spring (or vernal) equinox marks one of two days during the year when the sun passes directly over Earth’s equator, creating a near-equal amount of daytime and nighttime globally. In the northern hemisphere, it signals longer days and warmer weather ahead; in the southern hemisphere, it marks autumn’s arrival. 

Human beings around the world have paid homage to this astronomical milestone for millions of years, and it’s moving indeed to celebrate the event at ancient architectural sites around the world. For one of the most impressive displays, fly to Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, where a slithering shadow crawls across gray limestone on key afternoons of the year, including the spring equinox. The effect is created by El Castillo – a pyramid built around 800 CE within the Mayan complex of Chichén Itzá – whose shadows form the shape of a 120-foot-long snake, believed to honor the serpent god Kukulkán in hopes of a fruitful harvest. 

Get the inside scoop on the latest cultural happenings all over…

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