For everything from inspiration to navigation to academic studies to predicting the future, “sky is the limit” no longer applies.
With our busy schedules, hardly any of us have the time to track celestial events and grab opportunities for stargazing – we get it.
Just in case you get a day off, we’ve compiled a concise list of the major celestial events coming up this year visible from the UAE.
Best seen in: Most of them only need a dark place, away from the city lights to be viewed [think desert], while others might be better viewed through a telescope.
Here are the celestial events for 2016 listed chronologically:
1. August 12-13: Perseids Meteor Shower
A meteor shower occurs when the Earth passes through fields of debris left behind by asteroids and comets in their orbits around the sun. When these dust particles enter the Earth’s atmosphere, due to friction offered by the atmosphere, disintegrate giving off streaks of light.
The Perseids will peak on Aug. 12, and this year they will be in what we call outburst — their rates will double, because we’re running into more material left behind by Comet Swift-Tuttle.
– NASA meteor shower expert Bill Cooke.
The most spectacular one of the year with up to 150 meteors per hour, the Perseids Meteor Shower is one of the most famous meteor showers because of the number of meteors and the wide area from which they are visible.
This year though, there’s a little challenge to viewing the shower- The moon. The Full Moon is said to be 6 days after the peak of the shower (August 12). Don’t worry, the shower is active from July 17th to August 24.
According to Mr. Cooke, late night (10pm to 2am) would be the best times to watch the shower. Beginners, don’t expect to look up for 5 minutes and see meteors. You’re going to have to invest some quality time to see this spectacular show.
2. Orionids Meteor Shower : October 21-22
The Orionids meteor shower is caused by Earth travelling into the path of debris left behind by Halley’s Comet. Halley’s comet is one of, if not, the most famous comets. Extremely bright and visible in the night sky and often in the early hours of the morning, Halley’s comet only makes an appearance once every 76 years. The estimated date for its next arrival is 2061.
All Meteor showers are named after the Constellation from which they seem to originate. Constellation Orion seems to be the origin of this shower, hence the name. The origin point is called its “radiant”.
Look toward the constellation Orion for the best chances of spotting the meteor streaks.
3. Penumbral Lunar Eclipse: September 16
The second Penumbral eclipse of the year, this one treats viewers from Eastern Africa, Asia and Western Australia with its view.
You can watch the live stream here:
4. Supermoon and Geminids Meteor Shower: December 13-14
In normal cases, a full moon is so bright that it drastically reduces the chances of seeing any meteors. This time a Super Moon [when the moon is closest to the earth] just happens to be at the same time of the Geminid meteor shower.
That means if you really want to see the meteors, you’re going to have to find a place that has almost no interference from artificial lights. For the adventure seekers, the desert or even a mountain top will do.
However, because the Geminids are one of the two biggest and brightest showers of the year, if you’re lucky [and patient enough], you just might be able to see a few meteors in the night sky. And if you happen to have access to a telescope, check out the craters and mountains on the surface of the moon.
If you’re travelling and want to stargaze elsewhere, check out these listings.