(Yahoo News UK) – With a solar eclipse due on 26 February, there are plenty of celestial treats to keep stargazers happy in 2017.
Last year was packed with astronomical action including supermoons, Tim Peake’s history-making spacewalk and the arrival of NASA’s Juno probe at Jupiter and this year is set to be big just as big for space botherers. From meteor showers to solar eclipses, here are the space events you don’t want to miss in 2017…
- Annular solar eclipse – 26 February 2017
At the end of February, the moon will pass in front of the sun, creating a bizarre halo effect. Unfortunately, this year’s eclipse will only be visible over South and West Africa and some of South America.
- Jupiter at opposition – 7 April 2017
The largest planet in our solar system will reach ‘opposition’ in April, meaning that it will slide into view as Earth moves into position between the sun and Jupiter. The massive planet’s face will be illuminated by the sun and will be visible through binoculars or a telescope.
- Saturn at opposition – 15 June 2017
In summer, Saturn will move into its closest position to Earth, giving us the best view possible. A telescope will be needed to see the huge planet’s famous rings while Saturn is fully lit up by the sun.
- Perseid meteor shower – 12/13 August 2017
One of the brighter meteor showers of the year, the Perseids happens annually between 17 July and 24 August, this year peaking 12-13 August. The best time to view the shooting stars is between midnight and dawn.
- ‘Great American’ total solar eclipse – 21 August 2017
For around two minutes, a 70-mile stretch between Oregon and South Carolina will be plunged into total darkness in a rare total eclipse as the sun will totally disappear behind the full moon. Stargazers elsewhere in the US will get a partial view of the stunning eclipse.
- Cassini probe will crash into Saturn – 15 September 2017
Launched in 1997, NASA’s probe finally made it to Saturn in 2004 and has been beaming back vital data to Earth ever since. The probe will be destroyed when it plunges through Jupiter’s atmosphere but not before sending back never-seen-before images.
- Leonid meteor shower – 17/18 November 2017
The Leonids meteors will be visible in the night sky throughout November, peaking between 17 and 18 November. The glowing pieces of comet debris will be visible to the naked eye.
- Supermoon – 3 December 2017
While 2016 saw stargazers treated to several supermoons, 2017 will see just one. December’s full moon, also known as the Full Cold Moon, will appear slightly bigger and brighter than normal. The best time to watch will be around sunset when the distinctive orange moon will appear.
- Geminid meteor shower – 13/14 December 2017
Unlike most meteor showers, the Geminids are associated with an asteroid, rather than a comet. The glowing fireballs should be visible to the naked eye between December 7 and 16, but the best time to catch a glimpse is between 13 and 14 December.