Just look up: cosmic events Victorians can see in 2023

night sky Great Ocean Road

Jessica Taylor Yates

Posted February 03, 2023

Meteor showers, a blue moon, and a solar eclipse are all happening in 2023 and can be witnessed by Victorians. Find out what is happening and when.   

Astronomers believe there are vastly more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on Earth - and that’s not including every comet and asteroid flying about.

With so much activity in our cosmic neighbourhood, there’s plenty of wonderous events to witness – even without a telescope.

Former President of the Astronomical Society of Victoria Perry Vlahos has a favourite cosmic fact: “There is an amazing cosmic coincidence that occurs with the sun and the moon to allow us to see a total eclipse of the sun,” he says. “Because the sun is 400 times larger than the moon, but the moon is 400 times closer to us, it allows a much smaller moon to hide an enormous sun.”

Vlahos, an astronomer who spends his time staring at the stars, says there are plenty of celestial events to be seen by the naked eye this year – and some that may be a tad overblown.

From the supposed ‘miracle green comet’, to astronomical events happening once in a (literal) blue moon, these are the highlights of what to gaze at in our galaxy this year.  

For those wanting a good view at any of these events, try out Vlahos’ best locations for stargazing at any time of the year.

The shooting stars, moons, and celestial events Victorians can see in 2023


Green Comet - February 6

Despite being touted as a once-in-a-lifetime event, Vlahos says the excitement of the so-called ‘green comet’ might be a tad overblown. “We’re not going to see much, if at all, with the naked eye,” he says.

“When it does become visible from the 6th to the 11th of February, there’s a full moon on the 6th, which will create so much glare, it’s like being in the city trying to see the stars in the sky!”

While the comet does appear green in colour, it’s not unique, as most comets generally emit a green glow due to the diatomic carbon atoms that emit green rays whenever they head toward a star.

While it may not be much to see with our own two eyes, these types of cosmic events photograph better than they appear in human view, especially those celestial events with out-of-this-world auroras, like comets, or the famed Aurora Australis. “CCD chips in most cameras capture [celestial events] better than the naked eye,” says Vlahos.

“[They have] more of a propensity… to bring out colour than what’s in our eye, [meaning there is] a photographic artifact rather than a visual one.”

“Unfortunately,” says Vlahos, “the naked eye will not be able to see it.” Those desperate for a cosmic glare could try to observe the comet with binoculars or a telescope, although Vlahos believes that it will appear like a “hazy star.”


Total solar eclipse – April 20

On April 20, 2023, the Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia is set to host over 50,000 visitors for a spectacular cosmic event at precisely 11:27am, where the orbit of the sun, moon and earth will perfectly align for one minute and 16 seconds, basically putting all who are witness to the event in shadows.

So, why is this such a big deal?

“It's probably one of the most stupendous things you can ever witness with your own eyes,” Vlahos says excitedly. “[There’s just] nothing like it.”

For Vlahos, it’s a once in a blue moon (we’ll get to that later) occurrence best seen live, rather than on TV or pictures.

“It’s an amazing phenomenon that renders us as tiny humans on a midsize planet totally powerless to stop the workings of the solar system… it will remain with you forever.”

If you are unable to find accommodation or get yourself to the West Coast for this event of heavenly proportions, Vlahos says down in Victoria, we will get to witness what is known as a ‘partial eclipse,’ of the event, where about 20 per cent of the sun will be covered by the moon.

And if you’re desperate to witness the next one, that will be best seen in Sydney at 2pm on July 22, 2028, to be precise. 


Total eclipse

A total solar eclipse will be visible from parts of Australia on April 20, 2023. Image: Getty. 



Eta Aquariids Meteor Shower – May 7

While 12 meteor showers are set to rain down on planet Earth, according to Vlahos, there’s only three that will be spectacular – in May, October, and December.

“In May and October, the Earth crosses the orbit of Halley’s comet, and sweeps up the particles that have been left behind to create the meteor showers."

“The best viewing for these is after midnight,” he says, as visibility is largely diminished by light pollution made in the city.

But if you can get away to the regions, Vlahos advises that the best time to view these shooting stars is in the two hours before dawn. He notes that you’ll probably need to keep your head in the clouds for around an hour to see anywhere from five to eight shooting stars across the sprawling night sky.


Supermoon – August 2

While it may mean an extra chance to howl at the moon for the month if you are that way inclined, a supermoon occurs when a full moon is at one of its closest points to Earth.

Realistically, “an ordinary person would be hard pressed to notice any difference in the size of the moon,” says Vlahos.

That said, when it rises in the east, he says it is “well worth having a look.”

Blue moon – August 31

A blue moon is an extra moon in a calendar month – the 13th moon of the year.

As a full moon comes along every 29 days, in August, the first full moon is on the 2nd – meaning this year, a second, or ‘blue moon’ will appear in the same month, on August 31st.

“In this instance” says Vlahos, “it’s an amazing coincidence and rare phenomenon that the blue moon and another supermoon will coincide on August 31st.”

And as for it being blue?

The name really just came from The Old Farmer’s Almanac magazine, which used to note the dates of the moons in blue ink to alert farmers that there will be extra light to complete farm work in the evenings.

Considering the next one won’t be until 2026, you can see how the phrasing ‘once in a blue moon’ came about!


A supermoon, or 'blue moon,' will occur on August 31st this year.

Both a supermoon and a blue moon will occur on August 31 this year. Image: Getty. 



Orionids Meteor Shower – October 20-21

An annual event of shooting stars, the Orionids meteor shower is best viewed in regions like Wollongong in New South Wales, or in a regional area north-east of Melbourne.

The Orionids are a favourite amongst cosmophiles, as these particular meteors contain fragments of Halley’s comet, which only returns to earth every 75 years.


Geminids Meteor Shower – December 14

While the idea of seeing even a single shooting star can be dazzling, the Geminids Meteor Shower in December should produce around five to eight across the night sky – if you’re willing to stay up to have a look. 


You deserve a break more than once in a blue moon.
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