Look up to sky and observe the remarkable world above us. It’s mysterious and fascinating in equal measure and makes for some very interesting nights out.
The simplest definition of astronomy as explained by NASA is ‘the study of stars, planets and space’. This year sees a number of exciting astronomical events with many visible to the naked eye. So whether you’re a budding astronomer or just in awe of all that space above us, take note of these dates and check out eclipses and meteor showers.
Astrology is the ancient practice of studying the stars, planets, the sun and moon, and how it affects human behaviour. So, it may seem very similar to the actual science of astronomy but couldn’t be more different!
May 6 & 7
Photo: Justin Ng
This meteor shower is named after the Aquarius constellation and is made up of dust particles of perhaps the most famous of all comets – Halley’s Comet – which will only return in 2061. The Eta Aquariids meteor shower won’t blow your mind but will be easy spot in the southern hemisphere, which is unfortunate as Malaysia is in the northern hemisphere. But, if you’re in New Zealand, Australia and certain parts of South America, you’ll be in for a treat.
Venus is the second planet from the sun and is known as being the most like Earth in terms of size, mass and density. This July, the moon will appear very close to the planet. Again, this phenomena will be best observed in North America so if you’re there for a holiday make sure you look up on July 15th at sunset to catch a glimpse of Earth’s ‘twin’ planet.
Total lunar eclipse
A total lunar eclipse (also known as a blood moon) will be clearly visible across Australia, Africa, Europe, South America and Asia on July 28h. This will be the second lunar eclipse of 2018 and will last approximately five hours starting at 2.20am. The moon will travel through the darkest part of Earth’s shadow and will appear red for almost two hours. This eclipse will be fully visible in Kuala Lumpur. A blood moon has many superstitious and supernatural connotations including the (in) famous Blood Moon Prophecy and how strange behaviour is particularly rampant during these sorts of eclipses.
Mars comes into view
Mars is also known as the Red Planet and is named for the ancient Greek and Roman god of war. On the same day as the total lunar eclipse, Mars will come close to Earth (35.8 million miles to be exact). It will be clearly visible to the naked eye and you will not get an opportunity to observe the red planet so clearly until 2035. If you have a telescope, you’ll even be able to see plains and polar caps.
Partial solar eclipse
Photo: The India Express
A partial solar eclipse is when the moon doesn’t completely cover the sun and come August, there will be one visible in the north of Europe, North America and Asia. If you’re really keen, head to the city of Harbin in China for a spectacular view of the eclipse when the moon will cover almost half of the sun at sunset.
Leonids meteor shower
This meteor shower will be visible all over the world for most of November and will peak on the 17th and 18th. This shower is caused by the dust left behind by the Tempel-Tuttle comet, which appears every 33 years and originates from the constellation of Leo. In 1833, one of the most brilliant Leonids showers occurred with more than 200, 000 meteors seen over a few hours.
Photo: Digital Images of the Sky
The Comet 46P/Wirtanen is due to be seen by the naked eye in December if it’s bright enough. Astronomers have predicted that this will be the brightest comet seen over the Northern Hemisphere in five years. Stargazers are looking forward to this as it will be clearly visible for a few weeks and will be travelling through the constellation of Taurus.
Header Image Credit: David Kingham