Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Astronomy Calendar of Celestial Events for Calendar Year 2012

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  • January 3, 4 - Quadrantids Meteor Shower. The Quadrantids are an above average shower, with up to 40 meteors per hour at their peak. The shower usually peaks on January 3 & 4, but some meteors can be visible from January 1 - 5. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Look for meteors radiating from the constellation Bootes.

  • January 15 - New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible as seen from Earth.

  • January 15 - Annular Solar Eclipse.The path of annularity will begin in central Africa and move east through the Indian Ocean, southern India, Sri Lanka, Malymar, and China. A partial eclipse will be visible throughout most eastern Africa and Asia. (NASA Map and Eclipse Information)

  • January 29 - Mars at Opposition. The red planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. This year's approach will not be quite as close as it was in historic 2003, when Mars was only 34.7 million miles away. But at only 61.7 million miles, this is the best time to view and photograph Mars for quite some time to come.

  • January 30 - Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth. This full moon will be closest and therefore the largest of the year.

  • February 9 - Asteroid 2009 UN3 Close Approach.This asteroid is just under a kilometer in size and will pass within 14.5 times the distance from the Earth to the Moon. is should be visible in moderate or larger size telescopes near the border of the constellations Lepus and Columba. It will be a little easier to see in the southern hemisphere, where it will have an apparent movement of 50 arc seconds per minute, nearly fast enough to see the movement in the telescope. (Asteroid 2009 UN3 Information)

  • February 14 - New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible as seen from Earth.

  • February 16 - Conjunction of Jupiter and Venus. These two bright planets will come within half a degree of each other this evening. Unfortunately they will be quite close to the Sun and can easily get lost in the glare. Look slightly above and to the left of the setting Sun.

  • February 28 - Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth.

  • March 15 - New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible as seen from Earth.

  • March 20 - March Equinox. The March Equinox occurs at 23:21 UTC. The Sun will shine directly on the equator and there will be nearly equal amounts of day and night throughout the world. This is also the first day of spring (vernal equinox) in the northern hemisphere and the first day of fall (autumnal equinox) in the southern hemisphere.

  • March 22 - Saturn at Opposition. The ringed planet will be at its closest approach to Earth. This is the best time to view and photograph Saturn and its moons. Saturn's rings will be nearly edge-on this year and will be very difficult to see.

  • March 30 - Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth.

  • April 1 - 30 - Global Astronomy Month. The month of april this year has been designated Global Astronomy Month. This global outreach event hopes to generate interest in astronomy for people all over the world.
     
  • April 14 - New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible as seen from Earth.

  • April 14 - Lyrids Meteor Shower. The Lyrids are an average shower, usually producing about 20 meteors per hour at their peak. These meteors can produce bright dust trails that last for several seconds. This year's shower should peaks on the night of April 21 and the morning of the 22nd, although some meteors can be visible from April 16 - 25. The quarter moon will set early in the evening, leaving a dark sky for the best possible viewing in dark locations. Look for meteors radiating from the constellation of Lyra after midnight.

  • April 24 - Astronomy Day Part 1.Astronomy day is a grass roots movement to share the joys of astronomy with the general public. Two days this year have been designated as Astronomy Day. On these days astronomy and stargazing clubs and other organizations around the world will plan special events. You can find out more about April's events by checking the Web site for for AstronomyDay.org and the Astronomical League.

  • April 28 - Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth.

  • April 28 - Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower. The Eta Aquarids are a light shower, usually producing about 10 meteors per hour at their peak. The shower's peak usually occurs on May 5 & 6, however viewing should be good on any morning from May 4 - 7. The radiant point for this shower will be in the constellation Aquarius. Best viewing is usually to the east after midnight.

  • May 14 - New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible as seen from Earth.

  • May 19 - International Sidewalk Astronomy Night.Join amateur astronomers al over the world as they set up their telescopes in public places to share the night sky with everyone. Check their Web site for details.

  • May 27 - Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth.

  • June 12 - New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible as seen from Earth.

  • June 21 - June Solstice. The June solstice occurs at 17:16 UTC. The North Pole of the earth will be tilted toward the Sun, which will have reached its northernmost position in the sky and will be directly over the Tropic of Cancer at 23.44 degrees north latitude. This is the first day of summer (summer solstice) in the northern hemisphere and the first day of winter (winter solstice) in the southern hemisphere.

  • June 26 - Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth.

  • June 26 - Partial Lunar Eclipse. The eclipse will be visible throughout most of eastern Asia, Australia, the Pacific Ocean, and the western Americas. (NASA Map and Eclipse Information)

  • July 2 - Comet McNaught. On July 2, newly discovered comet McNaught makes its closest approach to the Sun. It will be visible in the early morning sky just before dawn for several weeks before and will grow gradually brighter as July 2 approaches. Make sure you find a dark location far away from city lights. The comet will appear as a dim, fuzzy spot of light. A good pair of binoculars will really help to make it clearly visible. It is too early to tell if the comet will grow a tail visible to the naked eye. For more information, click here.

  • July 11 - New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible as seen from Earth.

  • July 11 - Total Solar Eclipse. The path of totality will only be visible in the southern Pacific Ocean, Easter Island, and parts of southern Chile and Argentina. A partial eclipse will be visible in many parts of southern South America.
    (NASA Map and Eclipse Information)

  • July 26 - Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth.

  • July 28, 29 - Southern Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower. The Delta Aquarids can produce about 20 meteors per hour at their peak. The shower usually peaks on July 28 & 29, but some meteors can also be seen from July 18 - August 18. The radiant point for this shower will be in the constellation Aquarius. Best viewing is usually to the east after midnight.

  • August 10 - New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible from Earth.

  • 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 their peak. This year's shower should peak on the night of August 12 and the morning of the 13th, but you may be able to see some meteors any time from July 23 - August 22. The radiant point for this shower will be in the constellation Perseus. The thin, crescent moon will be out of the way early, setting the stage for a potentially spectacular show. For best viewing, look to the northeast after midnight.

  • August 13 - Triple Conjunction with the Moon. The planets Venus, Mars, and Saturn will all be close to the thin, crescent moon on this evening. Look to the west just after sunset.

  • August 20 - Neptune at Opposition. The blue planet will be at its closest approach to Earth. This is the best time to view Neptune, although it will only appear as a tiny blue dot in all but the most powerful telescopes.

  • August 24 - Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth. This full moon will be the most distant and therefore the smallest of the year.

  • September 8 - New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible from Earth.

  • September 21 - Jupiter at Opposition. The Solar System's largest planet will be at its closest approach to Earth. This is the best time to view and photograph Jupiter and its moons. The giant planet will be a big and bright as it gets in the night sky. A medium-sized telescope should be able to show you some of the details in Jupiter's cloud bands. A good pair of binoculars should allow you to see Jupiter's four largest moons, appearing as bright dots on either side of the planet. This year, Jupiter will be closer to the Earth than is has been in 50 years. The last time it was this close was in 1963. It won't get this close again until 2022.

  • September 22 - Uranus at Opposition. The blue-green planet will be at its closest approach to Earth. This is the best time to view Uranus, although it will only appear as a tiny blue-green dot in all but the most powerful telescopes. Since Jupiter will also be at opposition this week, this will provide a rare, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see both planets close together. Look for a small blue-green spot of light less than one degree from Jupiter.

  • September 23 - September Equinox. The September equinox occurs at 09:05 UTC. The Sun will shine directly on the equator and there will be nearly equal amounts of day and night throughout the world. This is also the first day of fall (autumnal equinox) in the northern hemisphere and the first day of spring (vernal equinox) in the southern hemisphere.

  • September 23 - Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth.

  • October 7 - New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible as seen from Earth.

  • October 16 - Astronomy Day Part 2. Astronomy day is a grass roots movement to share the joys of astronomy with the general public. Two days this year have been designated as Astronomy Day. On these days astronomy and stargazing clubs and other organizations around the world will plan special events. You can find out more about October's events by checking the Web sites for AstronomyDay.org and the Astronomical League.

  • October 20 - Comet Hartley 2. The comet will make its closest approach to Earth, coming within 11.2 million miles. For a few days around October 20, the comet should be bright enough to view with the naked eye in the early morning sky. You will, however, need to be far away from the glow of city lights. Look to the east just before sunrise. In early November, NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft will observe comet Hartley 2 from a distance of about 600 miles.

  • October 21, 22 - Orionids Meteor Shower. The Orionids is an average shower producing about 20 meteors per hour at their peak. This shower usually peaks on the 21st, but it is highly irregular. A good show could be experienced on any morning from October 20 - 24, and some meteors may be seen any time from October 17 - 25. Best viewing will be to the east after midnight.

  • October 23 - Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth.

  • November 6 - New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible as seen from Earth.

  • November 17, 18 - Leonids Meteor Shower. The Leonids is one of the better meteor showers to observe, producing an average of 40 meteors per hour at their peak. The shower itself has a cyclic peak year every 33 years where hundreds of meteors can be seen each hour. The last of these occurred in 2001. The shower usually peaks on November 17 & 18, but you may see some meteors from November 13 - 20. Look for the shower radiating from the constellation Leo after midnight.

  • November 21 - Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth.

  • December 5 - New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible as seen from Earth.

  • December 13, 14 - Geminids Meteor Shower. Considered by many to be the best meteor shower in the heavens, the Geminids are known for producing up to 60 multicolored meteors per hour at their peak. The peak of the shower this year should occur on the night of December 13 and morning of the 14th, although some meteors should be visible from December 6 - 19. Some estimates say there could be as many as 120 meteors an hour visible from dark-sky locations. The radiant point for this shower will be in the constellation Gemini. The Moon will set early in the evening setting the sky up for a spectacular show. Best viewing is usually to the east after midnight.

  • December 21 - Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth.

  • December 21 - Total Lunar Eclipse. The eclipse will be visible throughout most of eastern Asia, Australia, the Pacific Ocean, the Americas, and Europe. The eclipse will be visible after midnight in North and South America. Since the Moon will be almost directly overhead from these locations, this should be an excellent chance to view a rare total lunar eclipse. (NASA Map and Eclipse Information)

  • December 21 - December Solstice. The December solstice occurs 05:30 UTC. The South Pole of the earth will be tilted toward the Sun, which will have reached its southernmost position in the sky and will be directly over the Tropic of Capricorn at 23.44 degrees south latitude. This is the first day of winter (winter solstice) in the northern hemisphere and the first day of summer (summer solstice) in the southern hemisphere.


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