Heavenly Highlights for 2016
January 4, 2016 - Supermoon
The new year starts with a astronomical movement found in a pre-dawn hours, yet by late winter many of a concentration shifts to a dusk sky. Then Mars binds lean for a rest of a year with an extended confront with Saturn and an surprising one with Neptune. Earth’s moon also creates notable appearances with other astronomical objects via a year. Why not check a skies above to see how things play out?
Most over-hyped event: Beware of a super-duper moon
Every 14 months, a moon reaches a full proviso when it is also nearby a closest orbital indicate to Earth, ensuing in a brighter-than-average full moon — mostly called a “supermoon.” The Nov. 14 full moon approaches a closest to Southwest Virginia for a subsequent 30 years, yet usually by a smidgeon. Expect to hear a lot about this, many of it pristine hype.
1. Planets merge
The initial week of Jan sees a moon stepping down a morning ecliptic, flitting Jupiter, Mars, Venus and Saturn. Things unequivocally shine, though, when Venus and Saturn scarcely combine in a morning twilight on Jan. 9. Two mornings earlier, they were assimilated by a skinny crescent moon for a really intriguing sight. Venus again does a identical meet-up, this time really low in a west with Jupiter in a dusk of Aug. 27.
2. The splendid star Aldebaran disappears 3 times
As a moon orbits a world in a west-to-east direction, it appears to pass stars on a astronomical dome. Occasionally, it moves directly in front of a splendid star, unexpected restraint it from view. This year sees 3 lunar occultations involving Aldebaran, a brightest star in Taurus. The Oct eventuality will be a easiest to see.
Jan. 19, 9:22 to 10:28 pm.
Oct. 19, 1:31 to 2:37 a.m.
Dec. 12, 10:59 p.m. to 12:14 a.m.
3. Mercury meets a Moon
Little Mercury, a solar system’s smallest planet, can be formidable to spot. The skinny crescent moon provides dual good opportunities in 2016 to beam a skywatcher to this fugitive object, always appearing low above a horizon. On Feb. 6 during 6:40 a.m., they form a flattering triangle with shining Venus, while during 6:40 a.m. on Sept. 29, a splinter of a moon floats only subsequent Mercury.
4. Spring astronomical scene
Every year in early spring, a crescent moon creates an attractive, infrequently enchanting stage with a Pleiades and Hyades star clusters. On Apr 10 it hangs only above a splendid star Aldebaran, that shines in a forehead of a Hyades. The dusk before, it was a thinner crescent sporting Earthshine.
5. Mars and Saturn tangle
How many people commend Mars when they see it in a sky? It isn’t always agreeably visible, yet this Mar by July, it really will be. In a southeast around midnight in late Apr (or 10 p.m. in late May) splendid Mars rises followed closely by Saturn, not utterly as bright. Mars brightens until a finish of May when it reaches a closest proceed to Earth in 10 years, some 47 million miles away. Watch Mars solemnly slip westward from Saturn in May and June, afterwards behind toward it in Jul and August.
6. Meet a 3 amigos
With a planets always in motion, someday they form unusual, conspicuous arrangements in a sky. Saturn, Mars and a red star Antares lay in a line on a dusk of Aug. 23. Look low in a south-southwest after 9:15 p.m. for this astronomical trio.
7. Mars points a way
Many astronomical wonders are right during a dilemma of naked-eye prominence and, therefore, mostly are missed by a brisk skywatcher. Sometimes, though, a splendid world points out their locations. Two such engaging targets, neighbors on a astronomical dome, are a star combining nebulae M8 and M20. After 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 28 and 29, demeanour toward Mars, that is a brightest intent low in a southwest. The dual nebulae seem as low glows directly to a top right of a Red Planet. Binoculars simply exhibit them.
8. The crescent moon slides by Venus and Saturn
The skinny crescent moon, intense full with Earthshine, forms one dilemma of a nearby right triangle with Venus and Saturn occupying a other dual vertices on a dusk of Nov. 2. Look to a southwest 45 mins after nightfall for this flattering scene.
9. Mars exposes Neptune
On a final night of a year, a solar system’s many apart world can be speckled with binoculars fibbing subsequent to easy-to-see Mars. Even yet they seem subsequent to any other in a sky, cruise that their loyal subdivision is 2.7 billion miles.
10. Meteor Showers
The best meteor showering of a year expected will be a comparatively different Quadrantid in a early morning hours of Jan. 4. Look for this showering after midnight until dawn, high in a northeast, upwards of 50 meteors per hour. The crescent moon rises after 2 a.m.
The other vital showers of 2016 unfortunately have light obscuring a dimmer meteors, severely shortening their counts.
PERSEIDS Aug. 12, after a gibbous moon sets during 1:30 a.m., in a northeast, adult to 50 meteors per hour.
ORIONIDS The third entertain moon interferes with meteor sightings after 11 p.m. on Oct. 21, high in a east, and adult to 20 meteors per hour.
LEONIDS Bright gibbous moon dramatically reduces meteor counts, Nov. 17 between 1 a.m. and dawn, high in a southeast with maybe 20 meteors per hour.
GEMINIDS Bright gibbous moon dramatically lowers a meteor count of a year’s typically best shower. Dec. 14 after 8 p.m. until dawn, in a easterly before midnight and scarcely beyond after midnight, adult to 60 meteors per hour.