Weird Nature

Miss The Total Lunar Eclipse? Here's Some Other Amazing Things You Can See In The Sky In 2018  

Beth Elias
8.6k views 12 items

If you missed the Super Blue Blood Moon on January 31, 2018, there are still amazing astrological events to look forward to in the near future. Though we won't have another Super Blue Blood Moon, we will have more Blue Moons and Blood Moons. The astronomy calender for 2018 includes meteors, a comet, and even two upcoming planetary alignments. 

The Perseids, Leonids, and Geminids meteor showers will all light up the night sky this year, with the Geminids being the best and brightest show in December 2018. Massive comets will get closer to Earth for prime viewing potential, and Mars will also appear closer and brighter this year - moreso than it has for the past 15 years.

Mark your calendars, set a reminder or alert on your iPhone, or write it down - these are the astrological events you definitely don't want to miss. 

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Photo: ikewinski/flickr/CC-BY 2.0
The Leonid Meteor Showers Are Every November

If you're down about missing the first big celestial event of 2018, you can always count on the annual Leonid meteor showers. This year, they'll hit their max overnight on November 17. The best viewing time changes yearly (it's usually around 3 am EST); this time, you should be able to see them overnight and early on the morning of November 18. 

The Leonid meteor showers aren't named for anyone named Leonard; they're named for constellation of Leo because they appear to come from the constellation. However, you don't need to try to find the constellation to see the meteors. Looking anywhere in the sky should yield a good show. 

The shower is caused by the Earth's orbit crossing the orbit of Comet Tempel-Tuttle - these meteors are basically crumbs of the comet and its trail. Though they may look big, they're actually tiny (as in a grain of sand, maybe a pea). Because they're so small, they burn up before they could ever hit the Earth's surface (called a meteorite). The Leonid showers are highly unlikely to produce any meteorites. 

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If We're Lucky, We Might See Comet Wirtanen On December 16

Comet 46P/Wirtanen will be visible to the naked eye on December 16, 2018. At 7.1 million miles away, it will be the tenth closest comet in modernity. It is naturally bright and is a hyperactive comet, meaning it emits more water than it should.  

The comet may be visible for several weeks. It's a little too soon to tell at this point, but we do know Wirtanen can get extremely close to Earth (7.1 million miles away isn't really that far!). Though it is not a danger to Earth, it is possible Jupiter could push Wirtanen into a more threatening position. Don't worry, though - for 2018 (and the foreseeable future) we are safe from any life-altering impacts.

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Photo: Mike Peel/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0
The Geminid Meteor Showers Are The Brightest Part Of Every December

The Geminid meteor showers each December are always the best and brightest - up to 100 meteors per hour can shoot through the sky. December 13 and 14 will likely be the best days; go outside around 2 am EST for ideal viewing time. You'll be able to see them all over the sky, but if you find the constellation Gemini, you'll have an even better view. No telescope or binoculars are needed to see this decadent display. 

The Geminids were spotted for the first time in 1833, and the shower has gotten better over time. Gravity has worked its magic, though it's not the Earth's gravity; Jupiter has pulled the meteors from the asteroid 3200 Phaethon closer to Earth.

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67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko Is A Massive Comet Heading Back To Around Earth in 2021

67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is a big name for a big comet. It orbits the Earth about every six and a half years, and the next time it can be seen will be in 2021. It can only be seen when it nears the sun. Since it was spotted in 1969, it's been seen in 1976, 1982, 1989, 1996, 2002, 2009, and 2015. 

Many comets, including 67P/C-G, probably originated from the Kuiper belt. Though this may sound like something from Star Wars, it's actually a group of icy bodies located around Neptune. 

The comet's overall dimensions are astonishing - its mass is 1e + 13 kilograms, or ten to the thirteenth power, which looks like this: 10,000,000,000,000 kg. You don't have to be a mathematician to understand how colossal this comet is. 67P/C-G is a big deal and will be worth scanning the skies for come 2021.