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

3. SpaceX test launch

In 2016 SpaceX made history by landing their Falcon 9 first stage rocket after it had launched satellites into space. This came to an end when a rocket exploded on the launchpad, a worrying failure for a system that was nearing human crewed flight tests to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station. Along with other proponents of human exploration and settlement of space I will be nervously watching the resumption of launches in early 2017 to see if the ‘anomaly’ has been fixed. If SpaceX can reuse its rockets rather than discard them in the same was as aircraft are refuel upon reaching a destination airports it could usher in a new era of cheaper space travel.

The good times in 2016 when SpaceX landed on a barge in the ocean seemingly effortlessly. The resumption of test launches in 2017 will be eagerly awaited with crossed-fingers the world over.

4. Great American Eclipse

This Solar Eclipse will be on August 21st and totality (the complete eclipsing of the Sun by the Moon) will be visible in a narrow band stretching across the continental United States of America. In anticipation of the event, NASA has created a super accurate Moon model for the eclipse path. The craggy, cratered surface of the Moon results in stray sun-rays reaching Earth so that the the shadow region (as seen from space) is not the normally modelled oval. Check NASA for the best observing times in your location.

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