Saturday, January 5, 2019

Still Life with Robin: Twenty Nineteen and Counting

Blood Moon
(Wikimedia Commons)
by Peggy Robin

This first Saturday of the new year is a good time to look ahead and see what 2019 will bring us in the way of historic anniversaries, astronomical events, and quirks of the calendar.

And now for the thirtieth, fiftieth, seventy-fifth, one hundredth, two hundredth, and nine hundredth time…

On February 20: Sing Happy 200th birthday to Frederick Douglass! And perhaps this will be the year that “DC” turns into “Douglass Commonwealth”(?) (If you don’t get the reference, see to decrypt the new meaning proposed for our DC postal code.)

On June 4: It’s the Centennial of the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote nationwide. Look at how far we’ve come in 100 short years…or for glass-half-empty folks, look at how far we still need to go after 100 long years.

On June 6: We will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.

On July 20: It’s been 50 years since that first “small step for a man” on the moon. Hope the Air & Space Museum is back open before then!

On August 15-17: It’s been half a century since Woodstock! “And everywhere was a sound and celebration. And I dreamed I saw the bomber jet planes riding shotgun in the sky turning into butterflies above a nation,” sang Joni Mitchell, still the best at summing it all up. Want to be there for the Golden Anniversary Concert on August 16-18? Keep checking this site for tickets to go on sale:

On November 11: It’s been 30 years since throngs of joyous East and West Germans took sledgehammers to the oppressive Berlin Wall and allowed people to move freely through one city. Although the destruction of the wall was not completed until 1991, November 11 is the date to celebrate (see

And sometime during 2019 – we’re not sure of the month, let alone the exact date – we can celebrate the 900th anniversary of the founding of the Knights Templar. You have probably heard of this order of crusaders from historical thrillers and movies like The Maltese Falcon, National Treasure, and The Da Vinci Code. The forbidden order of knights figure in some way in every grand conspiracy theory ever advanced by crackpots of the past 900 years. Their leaders and members were wiped out, on the order of the King of France on Friday the 13th of October 1307 – which has given Friday the 13th a bad name ever since.

So – for those of you who believe that Friday the Thirteenth is an unlucky day – here are the two mornings this year you may not want to get out of bed:
September 13th and December 13th.

The year 2019 gives us two palindrome dates (the numbers are the same, read forwards or backwards). The first one is the palindrome date expressed in American date order (month, day, year): September 10, 2019 – 9 10 2019. The second is the palindrome date in international date order (day, month, year): 9 October 2019, or 9 10 2019.

And now for the Countdown Date of 2019:
20 19 18 17 16 15 – which is to say: 2019 January 8 (2019/1/8) at 17:16:15 (5:16 and 15 seconds  PM).

Next, we will go wind the clock forward to see what the heavens have in store for us in 2019 (with descriptions from, and National Geographic Science Astronomical Events 2019

January 20-21 - Super Blood Wolf Moon eclipse. Late on the 20th, Earth's dark shadow will creep over the full Wolf Moon, turning the silvery orb blood red during the year’s only total lunar eclipse. By cosmic coincidence, this full moon will also be especially close to Earth that night, making it a so-called Supermoon.

January 22 - Conjunction of Venus and Jupiter. A conjunction of Venus and Jupiter will be visible on January 22. The two bright planets will be visible within 2.4 degrees of each other in the early morning sky. Look for this impressive sight in the east just before sunrise.

February 19 – Biggest supermoon of the three supermoons of 2019. adds: “By the way, that bright star accompanying the February supermoon is none other than Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation Leo the Lion.” (  

March 21 - Full Moon, Supermoon. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Worm Moon because this was the time of year when the ground would begin to soften and the earthworms would reappear. This moon has also been known as the Full Crow Moon, the Full Crust Moon, the Full Sap Moon, and the Lenten Moon. This is also the last of three supermoons for 2019. The Moon will be at its closest approach to the Earth and may look slightly larger and brighter than usual. [From]

May 18 - Full Moon, Blue Moon. The Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be will be fully illuminated. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Flower Moon because this was the time of year when spring flowers appeared in abundance. This moon has also been known as the Full Corn Planting Moon and the Milk Moon. Since this is the third of four full moons in this season, it is known as a blue moon. This rare calendar event only happens once every few years, giving rise to the term, “once in a blue moon.”

November 11 - Rare Transit of Mercury Across the Sun. The planet Mercury will move directly between the Earth and the Sun. Viewers with telescopes and approved solar filters will be able to observe the dark disk of the planet Mercury moving across the face of the Sun. This is an extremely rare event that occurs only once every few years. The next transit of Mercury will not take place until 2039. This transit will be visible throughout all of South America and Central America, and parts of North America, Mexico, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. The best place to view this event in its entirety will be the eastern United States, Central America, and South America. []

If I’ve missed anything important, by all means send in your entries to round out this catalog of hot dates for 2019!

Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

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