It was December 21st when the night skies gave us a delightful sight. Jupiter and Saturn got close and were visible together for the naked eye to see.
People around the world were able to see this happen and capture pictures without needing much equipment. For people on Earth, it seemed as if the two planets combined into one bright star.
This phenomenon is known as the great conjunction and it occurs roughly every 20 years.
The special thing about this conjunction is that it’s the closest the two planets have been in around 800 years.
The view from Nasa’s equipment
Nasa has a device called the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), which has been in space for over a decade. It’s purpose has been to capture special moments in space that just aren’t possible to see properly from Earth.
This is a picture taken from the LRO that we got to see from Space.com. Have a look.
The amazing thing about this capture is that you can see Saturn’s rings fairly clearly.
The conjunction was a sight to behold, but what other future astronomical events are coming that we can look forward to seeing?
We’ve compiled a list of some events that aren’t too far in the future. We’ve also explained what they are so you can mark them on your calendar if they peak your interest.
Future astronomical events
Lunar eclipse – March 25, 2024
A lunar eclipse will occur on the 25th of March, 2024. If you want to see it in its prime, you need to be in the Americas. You can still see it from different parts of Africa, Australia, eastern Asia, western parts of Africa and Europe.
Total solar eclipse – April 26, 2024
On this date, you can experience a total solar eclipse. A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon properly covers the sun. Only the outer corona of the sun is visible in this state. You can see it from a number of places including northern Mexico and majority of the United States.
The passing of comet 9P/Tempel 1 – May 26, 2024
This is a comet that belongs to the periodic Jupiter-family comet. It revolves around the sun once every 5.5 years. The gravitational forces will be exceptionally strong when it’ll happen and may cause the asteroid to break apart.
Lunar perigee – August 10, 2024
Since the moon follows an eliptical path around the Earth, it’s distance with Earth constantly varies. A lunar perigee is the point of orbit of the moon in which is closest to the Earth. At this point, the moon will also appear bigger and brighter than usual.
The passing of Asteroid (137108) 1999 AN10 – August 7, 2027
This is a big asteroid that is about 1 km in length. When it passes by Earth on this date, it will 388,960 km from the center of Earth. In astronomical terms, that’s a very close distance. It’s so close that it will easily be visible with simple binoculars.
It’s also a part of the potentially hazardous space objects category. Yikes.
The passing of Asteroid (35396) 1997 XF11 – October 26, 2028
This asteroid is the same in length as the previous one, but it’s distance from the Earth when it crosses will be 3-times as much. It will be around 930,000 km from the center of the Earth.
The time capsule ‘A Message From Earth’ – 2029
This is a high-powered digital radio signal sent from Earth on October 9, 2008. It containts a set of 501 social media messages that were collected from a site called Bebo. The site may be dead now, but it’s legacy will potentially live on forever if it’s ever picked up by alien life.
Transit of Venus from Uranus – March 17, 2031
The transit of Venus will take place when it crosses between the sun and Uranus. When this happens, Venus wil be visible from Earth as a very small dot travelling across the sun. Transits usually take a long time and are therefore visible for a few hours on average.
Which of these events are you going to mark on your calendar? Do you know about any other interesting events that we haven’t mentioned on this list? Let us know in the comments!