The universe, the final frontier left for humanity to explore. So with potentially endless possibilities for us to discover something new, you may be wondering what do we already know about this vast expanse of unchartered territory? As many ancient civilizations have had their own unique mythical interpretations as to what was happening across the skyline, maybe you too can experience the same such nebulous mysticism of space once you learn what to look out for in the night sky.
So here are five weird, rare and phenomenal sightings of the universe from our little blue planet that we can experience when we gaze up at the night sky in wonder:
1) Planetary Alignment
In the southeastern sky on March 7th: Saturn, Mars, and Jupiter will all lineup across the sky in rare display of ethereal formations. From that date the waning gibbous moon will also appear to pass seamlessly between these heavenly bodies. On March 8th the moon will also glide between Jupiter and Mars conjuring up another awe inspiring visual image in space.
2) The Hale-Bopp Comet
Discovering the comet within about five minutes of each other and then both sending messages to Brian Marsden at the IAU's Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Thomas Bopp and Alan Hale discovered their very own comet on July 22, 1995. Thomas Bopp recently died on 5th january 2018 which makes the passage of this comet all the more relevant this year, in order to celebrate the legacy of one of the men who found this comet.
3) The Solar Eclipse
Solar eclipses are quite rare in our lifetime, but frequent opportunities do arise when we can catch a glimpse of this naturally occurring phenomena. This phenomena involves the passage of the moon in front of the sun to partially block out the sun’s light and stop it from reaching the Earth. Here’s a list of the next 10 solar eclipses that you can experience in your lifetime:
- 02 February 2019 19:24:07 in the South Pacific, Chile or Argentina
- 14 December 2020 19:24:07 in the South Pacific, Chile, Argentina or South Atlantic
- 04 December 2021 07:34:38 in Antarctica
- 08 April 2024 18:18:29 in Mexico, Central US and East Canada
- 12 August 2026 17:47:05 in the Arctic, Greenland, Iceland or Spain
- 02 August 2027 10:07:49 in Morocco, Spain, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen or Somalia
- 22 July 2028 02:56:39 in Australia or New Zealand
- 25 November 2030 06:51:37 in Botswana, South Africa or Australia
- 30 March 2033 18:02:35 in East Russia or Alaska
- 20 March 2034 10:18:45 in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Sudan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, or China
4) Blue Moon
Blue moons are fairly common these days, depending on your definition of what a blue moon is. However if you want to see the super big moon in the night sky appearing to be coloured blue, then you should definitely keep an eye on your lunar calendar and wait for the occurrence of this natural phenomena on January 31st 2018!
5) Meteor Showers and Planetary Sightings
2018 is jam-packed with meteor showers and rife with bright planetary sightings. For instance, Quadrantid is happening in the early morning of Jan. 3 or 4. Eta Aquarid meteors will follow on May 6 or 7, Perseid on the night of Aug. 12 to 13, Orionid on the night of Oct. 21 to 22, and the Leonid from Nov. 17 to 18. Perseid is then said to have the largest amount of shooting stars happening across the night sky.
So make sure that you especially don’t miss these up and coming celestial event in 2018!