Babe Among the Stars: Looking Forward to 2017

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Galaxy Babe's column banner, showing a full moon and some little folk looking up at the sky

Mortal as I am, I know that I am born for a day. But when I follow at my pleasure the serried multitude of the stars in their circular course, my feet no longer touch the earth - Ptolemy

Looking Forward to 2017

This is my 10th year of writing my BATS column for The Post. In all that time I do not recall a double occultation, but on 25 July the Moon will pass over both the planet Mercury and the star Regulus (alpha Leonis). One for the diary!

On 21 August there will be a total eclipse of the Sun. It will be the first since 9 March, 2016. Totality will only be viewable in parts of the mid- and west USA, other areas will see a partial eclipse. The next total eclipse will be in July 2019.

In September the Saturn orbiter Cassini-Huygens will be directed to end its mission by plunging into the gas giant's atmosphere. It had been in orbit around Saturn since 1 July, 2004, and is only being disposed of due to running low on fuel to initiate course corrections. The spacecraft had been named after the discoverer of Saturn's ring divisions, Italian-French astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini, and the Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens, who discovered Titan, Saturn's largest moon. I am sure they would have been very proud of their namesake and on behalf of H2G2 I offer my thanks to everyone involved in the mission for the science learned and wonderful images sent back for us to enjoy.

During December two missions to detect extrasolar planets will be launched, NASA's TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) and the ESA's CHEOPS (CHaracterising ExOPlanets Satellite). Happy hunting in 2018!

January 2017 Diary Dates

  • 02: Venus is less than 2° south of the Moon
  • 03: Mars and the Moon just 0.2° apart - some areas will see an occultation
  • 03: Quadrantids meteor shower peak
  • 04: Earth at perihelion (closest to the Sun) [0.98AU]
  • 08: The 80m-asteroid 2016 YK will pass Earth beyond the orbit of the Moon
  • 09: Aldebaran (alpha Tauri) less than half a degree from the Moon
  • 10: The Moon is at perigee
  • 12: Full Moon - the Wolf, Old, Ice, or Moon after Yule.
  • 15: Regulus within a degree of the Moon
  • 18: The 45m-asteroid 2015 BB will pass Earth beyond the orbit of the Moon
  • 19: Jupiter is less than 3° south of the Moon
  • 22: The Moon is at apogee
  • 24: The 1km-asteroid 2002 LS32 will pass Earth beyond the orbit of the Moon
  • 24: Saturn is less than 4° south of the Moon
  • 25: The 1.9km-asteroid 1991 VK will pass Earth beyond the orbit of the Moon
  • 26: Mercury is less than 4° south of the Moon
  • 26: The 2.8km-asteroid 2000 WN107 will pass Earth beyond the orbit of the Moon
  • 28: New Moon
  • 28: Chinese New Year - the Year of the Rooster
  • 31: Jupiter is 3.5° north of Spica (alpha Virginis)
  • 31: Venus is 4° north of the Moon

  • Chat about your celestial observances at the H2G2 Astronomy Society. Comment on anything in this edition of Babe Among the Stars by starting a new conversation below.

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