8 Space Reasons To Look Up In 2017

The annular solar eclipse of 4th January 2011 as seen by the Hinode satellite. The Moon is slightly more distant from Earth than in a total eclipse allowing a ring of sunlight to appear around the dark shadow of the Moon. NASA/Hinode/XRT

Kristy Hamilton 28 Dec 2016, 13:07

The Conversation

It’s been a rough 2016 on Earth so I wanted to share (just some of) my reasons why I think we should celebrate New Years as 2017 is looking incredibly exciting. Everything from meteor showers and eclipses to epic space missions and more, 2017 will be worth looking up for and forward too.

1. Quadrantids Meteor Shower

Kick off the New Year with a meteor shower on the night of 3rd / 4th January thanks to the debris tail from asteroid 2003 EH1. the Earth will plunge through dust and tiny pieces of rubble that then burn up in our atmosphere as shooting stars. These will appear to originate from the North, in the constellation of the Big Dipper / Plough meaning this is best enjoyed by Northern Hemisphere observers. The Moon is only partially illuminated meaning it won’t outshine many of the expected 100 or more shooting stars every hour.

2. Juno explores Jupiter

Exploring one of the Solar System’s most dangerous places is ambitious enough but to do so 37 times seems insane, yet that’s exactly what NASA’s Juno mission is undertaking this year. It entered orbit around Jupiter on the 4th July 2016 and at the close of the year had already started to reveal what lies beneath the clouds that make up the Gas Giant. As it threads underneath the dangerous radiation belts around Jupiter, skimming just 5000 km from the cloud tops, we will have unrivalled closeups of the chemical composition and structure of the planet. Thanks to Junocam those closeups will be as beautiful to view as they are valuable for science.

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