Astronomical Events 2018

Earth/sun from space from ACC payloadAs 2018 begins, here is an overview of a few astronomical events to keep an eye out for:

January 31: A Blue Moon and Total Lunar Eclipse occurs on this day. A Blue Moon is the second full Moon in a single month. The cycle of the phases is 29.5 days, so in 11 out of 12 months it is possible to have two full moons in a month. Additionally, this full moon is going to be a Total Lunar Eclipse. Lunar Eclipses can only occur during full moons when the Sun, Earth, and Moon perfectly align. In Denver, the eclipse starts at 3:51am MST, peaks at 6:29am MST, and ends at 7:12am MST. At it’s peak the eclipse will cause the Moon to be a blood red color. This is due to sunlight being refracted through Earth’s atmosphere and illuminating the shadowed Moon.

February: This month will have no full moon, due to the phase cycle being 29.5 days, and February has only 28 days. February is the only month that this can happen in, and it happens about once every 20 years.

March 20: The March equinox is at 10:14am MDT. On this day, the Sun crosses the celestial equator. In Denver, it is our Vernal Equinox and is our first day of spring. This day will have equal amounts of day and night.

March 31: A Blue Moon occurs on this day. It is the second blue moon of the year.

April 22 & 23: The Lyrids Meteor Shower peaks during this time maxing at about 20 meteors per hour. The meteoroid particles come from the comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher.  The radiant of this shower is in the constellation of Lyra.

May 6 & 7: The Eta Aquarius Meteor Shower peaks during this time maxing at about 30 meteors per hour. The meteoroid particles come from the comet Halley. The radiant of this shower is in the constellation Aquarius.

June 21: The June Solstice is at 4:07am MDT. In Denver on this day, the Sun reaches the highest daily maximum in the sky and has the most hours of sunlight. In Denver, is is our Summer Solstice and is our first day of summer.

July 28 & 29: The Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower peaks during this time maxing at about 20 meteors per hour. The meteoroid particles come from the comets Marsden and Kracht. The radiant of this shower is in the constellation Aquarius.

August 12 & 13: The Perseid Meteor Shower peaks during this time maxing at about 60 meteors per hour. The meteoroid particles come from the comet Swift-Tuttle. The radiant of this shower is in the constellation of Perseus.

September 22: The September Equinox is at 7:54pm MDT. On this day, the Sun crosses the celestial equator. In Denver, it is our Autumnal Equinox and is our first day of fall. This day will have equal amounts of day and night.

October 8: The Draconids Meteor Shower peaks during this time maxing at about 10 meteors per hour. The meteoroid particles come from the comet 21 Giacobini-Zinner. The radiant of this shower is in the constellation of Draco.

October 21 & 22: The Orionids Meteor Shower peaks during this time maxing at about 20 meteors per hour. The meteoroid particles come from the comet Halley. The radiant of this shower is in the constellation of Orion.

November 5 & 6: The Taurids Meteor Shower peaks during this time maxing at about 10 meteors per hour. The meteoroid particles come from the comet 2P Encke and asteroid 2004 TG10. The radiant of this shower is in the constellation of Taurus.

November 17 & 18: The Leonids Meteor Shower peaks during this time maxing at about 15 meteors per hour. The meteoroid particles come from the comet Tempel-Tuttle. The radiant of this shower is in the constellation of Leo.

December 13 & 14: The Geminids Meteor Shower peaks during this time maxing at about 120 meteors per hour. The meteoroid particles come from the asteroid 3200 Phaethon. The radiant of this shower is in the constellation of Gemini.

December 21: The December Solstice is at 3:23pm MDT. In Denver on this day, the Sun reaches the lowest daily maximum in the sky and has the least hours of sunlight. In Denver, is is our Winter Solstice and is our first day of winter.

December 21 & 22: The Ursids Meteor Shower peaks during this time maxing at about 10 meteors per hour. The meteoroid particles come from the comet Tuttle. The radiant of this shower is in the constellation of Ursa Minor.

Enjoy Observing the Sky in 2018!

Please join the ACC Astronomy Department on twitter by following @AstronomyatACC to learn of interesting astronomy news as well as events around campus.

Jennifer Jones
ACC Astronomy Faculty

Astronomical Events – Fall 2015

There are many interesting things happening in the night sky this fall. Here is a quick guide to them:

September 13, 2015 at 12:55am MST: There will be a Partial Solar Eclipse, only visible near the South Pole. This is unfortunate for us, as it will not be visible here at ACC.

September 23, 2015: This is the autumnal equinox. On this day everywhere has 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness. Neither the northern nor the southern hemisphere is more tilted towards the Sun. For the first time in 6 months, the sun is rising on the South Pole and for the first time in 6 months the sun is setting on the North Pole. There is a wives tale that on this day an egg can be balanced on its end. While, this is true for this day, it is also true for every other day, if you are talented at balancing things.

September 27, 2015 at 8:48am MST: There will be a Total Lunar Eclipse. If it is night at your location at this time then the eclipse will be visible. The entire process takes about 5 hours, but will only be obvious for 3 hours.

October 1, 2015: It is possible the Comet C/2013 US10 Catalina will be visible to the naked eye. It will continue to brighten over the next month.

October 21 & 22, 2015: The Orionids Meteor Shower will occur with up to 20 meteors per hour. While these days are the peak, the full shower runs from October 2nd until November 7th. These showers are caused by the left over dust grains from Hailey’s Comet. The shower will appear to originate from Orion, but can be seen in the whole sky.

Nov 5 & 6, 2015: The Taurids Meteor Shower will occur with up to 10 meteors per hour. While these days are the peak, the full shower runs from September 7th until December 10th. These showers are caused by the left over dust grains from two objects Asteroid 2004TG10 and Comet 2P Encke. The shower will appear to originate from Taurus, but can be seen in the whole sky.

Nov 13 & 14, 2015: The Leonids Meteor Shower will occur with up to 15 meteors per hour. While these days are the peak, the full shower runs from November 6th until November 30th. These showers are caused by the left over dust grains from Tempel-Tuttle. The shower will appear to originate from Leo, but can be seen in the whole sky.

Dec 13 & 14, 2015: The Geminids Meteor Shower will occur with up to 120 meteors per hour. While these days are the peak, the full shower runs from December 7th until December 17th. These showers are caused by the left over dust grains from the asteroid 3200 Phaethon. The shower will appear to originate from Gemini, but can be seen in the whole sky.

Dec 22, 2015: The Ursids Meteor Shower will occur with up to 10 meteors per hour. While these days are the peak, the full shower runs from December 17th until December 25th. These showers are caused by the left over dust grains from the comet Tuttle. The shower will appear to originate from Ursa Minor (the Little Dipper), but can be seen in the whole sky.

December 22, 2015: This is the winter solstice. The Southern Hemisphere is the most tilted towards the Sun and the Northern Hemisphere is most tilted away from the Sun. This means the Northern Hemisphere will have its longest night and the Southern Hemisphere will have its longest day.

Enjoy the Sky!
Jennifer Jones
ACC Astronomy Faculty