Have you got your diary handy to mark in some of the celestial events of 2018?
With so much visual stimulation available to us in the modern world, it is sometimes easy to forget that some of the most stunning and beautiful events that can take place in your lifetime actually happen thousands and millions of miles away, up in the heavens! Celestial events take place across all months of the year, with different things being visible from different locations all over the world. There is something about the sheer, awe inspiring natural beauty of things that happen in our skies that makes us human beings feel very small, so if you want to experience some of that beauty, then here are some of the celestial events of 2018 that shouldn’t be missed
1. Black Moon
During the entire month of February, so right now, there will be no full moon at all. One of the most rare of 2018 celestial events, this is a phenomenon that only happens about once every 20 years, with the months of January and March instead having two full moons each.
2. March Equinox
On March 20th, the sun will cross the celestial equator from the south to the north, which means that the entire planet will witness an equal amount of day and night.
3. Lyrid Meteor Shower
On 22nd and 23rd April, this meteor shower, originating from the Lyra constellation, will be visible from earth. It is made out of dust particles from a comet called Thatcher and will produce bright trails in the night sky.
4. Bright Jupiter
On May 9th, Jupiter, the biggest planet in our solar system, will shine the brightest it will all year because of its projected position being illuminated by the sun.
June 21st will mark the occasion of summer solstice across the Northern Hemisphere and winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere. It is the day of the year that, depending on your location, has the most sunlight or the least sunlight.
6. Strawberry Moon
June 18th will mark the beginning of strawberry picking season in American with a suitably titled strawberry coloured moon. In Europe, you might now it better as the Full Rose Moon or the Honey Moon.
7. Delta Aquariids Meteor Shower
Happening between July 12th and August 23rd, meteors caused by the debris from Ktacht and Marsden comets shower the skies. The peak viewing time is July 28th when there can be up to 20 meteors per hour.
8. Partial Solar Eclipse
On July 13 (southern Australian and Antarctica) and August 11th (northeast Canada, Greenland, extreme northern Europe, northern Russia and northern and eastern Asia) you can enjoy a partial solar eclipse, this occurs when the moon shadows only one part of the Sun, making a stunning visible crescent of dark and light in the daytime.
9. Mars at Opposition
On July 17th Mars will be at its closest position to earth in the entire year, making it visible throughout the night thanks to the sun illuminating it completely.
10. Total Lunar Eclipse
Sorry the Americas, this one is not in your 2018 celestial events! A total lunar eclipse happens on July 27th but will only be visible in Europe, Africa, western and central Asia, the Indian Ocean, and Western Australia.
11. Perseids Meteor Shower
Between August 12th and 13th, we will be treated to a stunning range of up to 60 meteor showers coming from the debris of the Swift-Tuttle comet. It’s one of the most popular showers in the world and is always marked by a dark sky and an early setting crescent moon.
12. Neptune Reaches Opposition
Neptune is the eight planet in our solar system, and September 7th marks the date that it will be the closest to earth. It will shine brightly and will be visible all through the night.
The first day of the autumnal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere and the vernal equinox in the Southern, the phenomenon will occur at 01:54 UTC on September 23rd. The Sun will shine directly on the equator, thus creating equal amount of day and night.
14. Harvest Moon
September 24th will bring the harvest moon, a full mon that marks the time to start harvesting crops for the winter.
15. Uranus in Opposition
On October 23rd, Uranus will be completely illuminated by the Sun and will be visible as a blue-green dot. Sadly, sky gazers will need powerful telescopes to observe the planet.
16. Taurids Meteor Shower
This is a meteor shower in early November that consists of two separate streams that produce around 5 to 10 meteors per hour. You will definitely get a lot of bang for your buck with this one! It is made from the dust from Asteroid 2004 TG10 and Comet 2P Encke.
17. Leonids Meteor Shower
This meteor shower formed from the dust of comet Temple-Tuttle is significant because as it peaks after 33 years during which hundreds of comets can be seen in an hour.
18. Geminids Meteor Shower
If you only get to see one meteor shower in 2018, make it this one. It is the king of showers with debris from the asteroid 3200 Phaethon producing up to 120 meteors of various colours per hour at its peak on December 13th.
December 21st marks the first day of summer for the southern hemisphere and the first day of winter for the Northern Hemisphere. The sun reaches its southernmost position in the sky.
You’ll need to check local websites for the best dates to view the 2018 celestial events where you live.