Looking to climb Kilimanjaro next year, but having trouble settling on a date. One of the best ways to choose when to climb is to see what astronomical events are happening over the next 12 months and see if you can time your trek to coincide with one. After all, there are few things more likely to take your mind off the thumping headache and the screaming pain coming from your legs than the sight of the moon suddenly disappearing into the Earth’s shadow.
January 21st is actually an extraordinary time to be on the Roof of Africa. Not only will there be a super full moon – when the moon passes closer to the Earth than at other times and, as a result appears to be that much bigger – but there will also be a penumbral lunar eclipse at this time too. This is where the moon, Sun and Earth are in alignment, meaning that the moon partially hides in the Earth’s shadow.
And best of all, this will all be happening at around 5.30am – when many Kilimanjaro trekkers will be on the Crater Rim, making their way round to Uhuru Peak and the very highest point in Africa!
How spectacular will it be? Well, I don’t know, but I am curious enough to have chosen to trek at this time and see what it looks like. I’ll also be taking an unusual route to the summit – the Full Circuit Umbwe – which is an improved and safer version of this beautiful and wonderfully quiet route. There’s still a couple of places on this pioneering trek if you wish to join us – no experience needed!
If you can’t make this date then there’s also a Super Full Moon the following month, and we have treks running on both the Rongai and Machame Routes at this time.
Later in the year there’s a further partial lunar eclipse in July, and then in November there’s a further astronomical event as Mercury transits in front of the sun. Typically the Solar System’s smallest planet takes about five and a half hours to complete its transit across the Sun. The last time this happened was back in 2016 – and after next year it won’t happen again until 2032.
Of course looking directly at the sun is never a good idea – it certainly won’t do your headache any good! But star-gazers and astronomical enthusiasts can watch the transit using small Newtonian telescopes or simply outfit your binoculars or telescope with solar filters; there’s a fair bit of instruction on the internet about how to do this. Though November isn’t traditionally a great time to climb – the short rainy season often starts at this time – the transit does occur during the first half of the month, so you may be lucky and miss the rains altogether. (One of my favourite times on the mountain was climbing on the Alternative Lemosho Route in this month, when the rain held off and the lack of anybody else on the mountain – the rainy seasons are always quiet – made it a terrific trek!)
Interested? Well, we have treks scheduled to coincide with all these events; visit the following page to see if there are any that are of interest to you:
Hope to see you on the mountain soon!