Looking forward to several spectacular celestial shows this year?
2018 is set to offer many heavenly delights for sky-watchers. There are various astronomical phenomena taking place in the next few months. Thanks to National Geographic, Big Think, and KL Now, we’ve compile a list of big events that are worth circling on your calendar.
1. Partial Solar Eclipse on 15th February
On Chinese New Year eve, the moon will return for an encore and partially eclipse the sun. A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Sun and the Earth. During a partial solar eclipse, the moon, Earth and Sun aren’t exactly in a straight line. But a portion of the moon does cast a shadow on the sun’s surface.
2. Blue Moon on 2nd and 31st March
It’s quite rare to have two Blue Moons in the same calendar year. Those staying in Eastern and Central Asia will get a good view of the Blue Moon. Of course, the moon won’t be exactly blue in colour – it’s just a name. It is believed that the blue hue comes from volcanic activity or wildfires as dust particles filter out the red light.
It last happened in 1999 and will only return again in 2037. It’s “once in a blue moon” after all.
3. Lyrid Meteor Shower from 16th to 25th April
In late April, skywatchers will be able to catch the Lyrid Meteor Shower in the Northern hemisphere. The best time to watch will be early in the morning on 22nd April (Sunday). According to NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke, “the average Lyrid shower produces 15 to 20 meteors per hour“.
4. Lunar Eclipse on 27th July
Missed out on the first lunar eclipse? Fret not, cause you’ll get a second chance to witness a total lunar eclipse as it crosses South America, Europe, Australia, Africa, and Central Asia. It will be the longest lunar eclipse of the 21st century (half a day) as the moon reaches its farthest point from Earth.
On the same date, Mars will appear the biggest and brightest since 2003. The red planet will be at the opposition of the Sun and also closest to the Earth. It won’t get this close again until 2035.
5. Perseid Meteor Shower on 12th and 13th August
Expected to be one of the best meteor shower of the year, the Perseids will be producing up to 60 meteors per hour at their peak. When is the best time you asked? The peak will coincide with the moonless sky on the night of 12th August and into the predawn hours of 13th August. In the words of Space.com Associate Editor Sarah Lewin, the Perseids are rich in fireballs (for this year), so the show should be even better.
6. Leonid Meteor Shower on 17th and 18th November
The Leonids, which emerges from the constellation Leo, is annually active every November – particularly on the 17th and 18th. This phenomenon occurs when the Earth passes through the debris left by the comet Tempel-Tuttle.
7. Geminids Meteor Shower in December
Considered as one of the best meteor showers every year, the Geminids are bright and they come fast and furious. It doesn’t matter where you are on Earth, the best viewing hours for stargazers are usually approximately 2am. The dazzling spectacle is the perfect way to round out another year of stargazing.
Sources: National Geographic, Big Think, KL Now, Space.
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