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Mark Your Calendars for These 2017 Space Events, Astronomy Fans


What astronomical events top the 2017 calendar? Haitang Yu/Getty Images
What astronomical events top the 2017 calendar? Haitang Yu/Getty Images

If you get bored with social media in 2017, put down your smartphone and step outside for a look at the sky. As usual, numerous intriguing astronomical events will take place, including some that you'll be able to see without equipment. Here's a rundown of some of the most spectacular ones.

Thursday, Jan. 19: The Moon meets Jupiter. Space.com reports that the quarter moon will sit about two degrees north of Jupiter. Both objects will be bright enough to be observed without using a telescope or binoculars.

Friday, Feb. 10: Penumbral lunar eclipse. The Earth's outer shadow, or penumbra, will throw some shade on the full moon, according to Eclipsewise.com.

Saturday, Feb. 11: Comet flyby. Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova, which rounded the sun in December, is set to zoom past Earth. The icy object will pass by Earth at a distance of approximately 7.7 million miles, and you may be able to spot it in the sky around sunrise.

Wednesday, March 29: Mercury, Mars and the crescent moon line up in a triangle. This is a good chance to observe Mercury, the smallest true planet, which will be at its most distant point from the sun, according to National Geographic.

In a solar eclipse, the moon blocks sunlight from reaching the surface of Earth. (Image not to scale.)
In a solar eclipse, the moon blocks sunlight from reaching the surface of Earth. (Image not to scale.)
NASA

Monday, Aug. 21: Total solar eclipse. Solar eclipses happen when the moon passes directly between Earth and the sun. This one will be the first such event to be seen over the United States since 1979, and weather permitting, it will be visible within a narrow corridor across the country, weather permitting. Here's a detailed Sky and Telescope article on all of the year's solar and lunar eclipses.

Wednesday, Dec. 13 and Thursday, Dec. 14: Geminids meteor peak. The annual meteor shower — which actually is a stream of debris cast off from the asteroid 3200 Phaeton as Earth crosses its orbital path each year — will reach its peak, with about 60 to 80 meteors per hour, according to Basic Astronomy.



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