New year promises numerous celestial events for sky watchers

Manasi Saraf Joshi
Thursday, 28 December 2017

"The year 2018 is an interesting one as we will have two total lunar eclipses this year. One on January 31 while the other on July 27”, said Astronomy Expert Mayursh Prabhune. He said that two lunar eclipses are a rare phenomenon and the year 2015 too had witnessed the lunar eclipse but this time they are total lunar eclipses.

Pune: The night sky has always fascinated everyone for ages. Hardly, there would be any soul who cannot appreciate the twinkling stars and white moon. But then if you get to know these celestial events little in advance then you can plan your nights accordingly. Likewise, it would be an excellent opportunity for all the armatures and sky gazers to watch and study as these events unfold up above in the sky.

"The year 2018 is an interesting one as we will have two total lunar eclipses this year. One on January 31 while the other on July 27”, said Astronomy Expert Mayursh Prabhune. He said that two lunar eclipses are a rare phenomenon and the year 2015 too had witnessed the lunar eclipse but this time they are total lunar eclipses.

All these celestial events provide a wonderful opportunity to lay back and be in awe of the universe. This astronomy calendar of celestial events will give you glimpses of the notable celestial events including moon phases, meteor showers, eclipses, oppositions, conjunctions et el. Although most of the events can be seen with naked eyes, some may require a good pair of binoculars for best viewing.

Total lunar eclipse: A total lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes completely through the earth's dark shadow or umbra. During this type of eclipse, the moon will gradually get darker.

- January 31 - The eclipse will be visible throughout most of western North America, eastern Asia, Australia and the Pacific Ocean.

- July 27- This eclipse will be visible throughout most of Europe, Africa, western and central Asia, the Indian Ocean and Western Australia. (NASA Map and Eclipse Information)

Meteors shower: Whenever earth encounters a stream of gritty debris left in space by a passing comet, the result is a meteor shower.

- January 3, 4 - Quadrantids meteor shower. The Quadrantids is an above average shower, with up to 40 meteors per hour at its peak. It is thought to be produced by dust grains left behind by an extinct comet known as 2003 EH1, which was discovered in 2003. The shower runs annually from January 1-5.

- April 22, 23 - Lyrids meteor shower. The Lyrids is an average shower, usually producing about 20 meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by dust particles left behind by comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher, which was discovered in 1861. The shower runs annually from April 16-25.

- May 6, 7 - Eta Aquarids. The Eta Aquarids is an above average shower, capable of producing up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak. Most of the activity is seen in the southern hemisphere. In the northern hemisphere, the rate can reach about 30 meteors per hour. It is produced by dust particles left behind by comet Halley, which has known and observed since ancient times. The shower runs annually from April 19 to May 28.

- July 28, 29 - Delta Aquarids meteor shower. The Delta Aquarids is an average shower that can produce up to 20 meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by debris left behind by comets Marsden and Kracht. The shower runs annually from July 12 to August 23.

- August 12, 13 - Perseids meteor shower. The Perseids is one of the best meteor showers to observe, producing up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by comet Swift-Tuttle, which was discovered in 1862. The Perseids are famous for producing a large number of bright meteors. The shower runs annually from July 17 to August 24.

- October 8 - Draconids meteor shower. The Draconids is a minor meteor shower producing only about 10 meteors per hour. It is produced by dust grains left behind by comet 21P Giacobini-Zinner, which was first discovered in 1900. The shower runs annually from October 6-10.

- October 21, 22 - Orionids meteor shower. The Orionids is an average shower producing up to 20 meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by dust grains left behind by comet Halley, which has been known and observed since ancient times. The shower runs annually from October 2 to November 7.

- November 5, 6 - Taurids meteor shower. The Taurids is a long-running minor meteor shower producing only about 5-10 meteors per hour. It is unusual in that it consists of two separate streams. The first is produced by dust grains left behind by Asteroid 2004 TG10. The second stream is produced by debris left behind by Comet 2P Encke. The shower runs annually from September 7 to December 10.

- November 17, 18 - Leonids meteor shower. The Leonids is an average shower, producing up to 15 meteors per hour at its peak. This shower is unique in that it has a cyclonic peak about every 33 years where hundreds of meteors per hour can be seen. That last of these occurred in 2001. The Leonids is produced by dust grains left behind by comet Tempel-Tuttle, which was discovered in 1865. The shower runs annually from November 6-30.

- December 13, 14 - Geminids meteor shower. The Geminids is the king of the meteor showers. It is considered by many to be the best shower in the heavens, producing up to 120 multicolored meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by debris left behind by an asteroid known as 3200 Phaethon, which was discovered in 1982. The shower runs annually from December 7-17.

- December 21, 22 - Ursids meteor shower. The Ursids is a minor meteor shower producing about 5-10 meteors per hour. It is produced by dust grains left behind by comet Tuttle, which was first discovered in 1790. The shower runs annually from December 17-25.

Supermoon
January 2 - The moon will be located on the opposite side of the earth as the sun and its face will be will be fully illuminated. It will be at its closest approach to the earth and may look slightly larger and brighter than usual.

January 31- Blue moon. Since this is the second full moon in the same month, it is sometimes referred to as a blue moon. This is also the last of two supermoons for 2018.

Solar eclipse: Partial solar eclipse. A partial solar eclipse occurs when the moon covers only a part of the sun, sometimes resembling a bite taken out of a cookie. A partial solar eclipse can only be safely observed with a special solar filter or by looking at the Sun's reflection.

February 15 and July 13- This partial eclipse will only be visible in parts of Chile, Argentina and Antarctica and southern Australia and Antarctica respectively.

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