Easter weekend blessed with Pink Moon and meteor shower

2019-02-18 06:00 - Gabi Zietsman
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THE LATEST: The Easter weekend is here and the celestials are going all out for the celebrations this year.

Good Friday will be blessed with a Pink Moon - it will be the first full moon of April and in the northern hemisphere another mark of spring. Although it won't be necessarily pink in colour, its names stems from Native American culture where full moons are named after seasonal things, and this case after the first wildflowers that pop up for the new season.

Another celestial event - the Lyrids Meteor Shower - will take place overnight from Easter Monday to 23 April, although it will be at its best in the early morning of Tuesday.

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Whether you're an avid amateur astronomer or just like snuggling up with a loved one under the stars from time to time, watching the sky put on a show is magical no matter where you're from in the world.

And this year is going to be a busy month for celestial giants.

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2019 started off already with a Quadrantids meteor shower and a partial solar eclipse, with a super blood wolf moon eclipse in January. It's shaping up to be a year to keep your head tilted towards the stars and making plans to travel to the darkest spots in SA, particularly Sutherland, Cederberg and anywhere you can escape the hindrance of city lights.

Even if it's not visible from SA, the spots they are visible in could be your next big trip for 2019.

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Here are 2019 celestial events to look out for: 

22-23 April: Lyrids Meteor Shower

They will be peaking overnight in April, caused by debris from Comet Thatcher. 

5 - 6 May: Eta Aquariid Meteor Shower

This one is debris from Halley's Comet, which takes about 76 years to orbit the sun.

2 July: Total solar eclipse at twilight

This year's solar eclipse unfortunately will be limited, visible from the middle of the South Pacific, seen from luxury cruise ships planning for the event. Other spots to view the eclipse includes Chile's Elqui Valley among the world's biggest telescopes, as well as western Argentina.

If you would love to see it, now's the time to plan a trip to one of these spots. 

QUICK GUIDE TO CHILE: Visa-free travel for South Africans

16 July: Partial lunar eclipse

The Southern Hemisphere will get a turn with this partial lunar eclipse, expected to peak around 21:30.

12-13 August: Perseid Meteor Shower

One of the brightest, this meteor shower is debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle, which goes around the sun every 133 years.

21-21 October: Orionid Meteor Shower

It will be peaking overnight, the second meteor shower caused by debris from the famous Halley's Comet. 

11 November: Mercury crossing the Sun

This only happens every 13 years, where from Earth Mercury will look like a small teardrop on the surface of the sun.

The Hong Kong Space Museum will be holding a special public viewing at Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront. You'll need some strong binoculars to be able to see the tiny planet.

QUICK GUIDE TO HONG KONG: Visa-free travel for South Africans

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Here comes the Sun… ?? Heliophysicists (Scientists who study the Sun!) have been waiting more than 60 years for a mission like this to be possible. Parker Solar Probe is journeying closer to the Sun than any of our spacecraft before, in order to help us solve the solar mysteries waiting in the corona (the Sun’s outer atmosphere). The solar wind, along with the Sun’s magnetic field, envelops the inner part of our solar system. Occasionally, large amounts of this solar material spews out in a coronal mass ejection. These can create geomagnetic storms in space, which can cause power outages, disrupt satellite electronics, and even endanger astronauts! Therefore, it’s critical to understand the fundamental physics that power our Sun. This image from Parker Solar Probe shows a coronal streamer — a structure of solar material within the corona that usually indicate regions of increased solar activity. Parker Solar Probe was about 16.9 million miles from the Sun’s surface when this image was taken on Nov. 8, 2018. The bright object near the center of the image is Mercury! As Parker Solar Probe circles closer and closer to the Sun, we look forward to retrieving data to help us address some of our longest unanswered questions about our Sun! ?? Credits: NASA/Naval Research Laboratory/Parker Solar Probe #NASA #ParkerSolarProbe #SolarSystem #Sun #SolarWind #Heliophysics #SolarCycle #Universe #Beyond #Galaxy #Space #SolarRays #Light #Magnetic #Star #SolarEncounter #Corona #Storms #Geomagnetic #SolarProbe #Mercury #SoakUpTheSun #Spacecraft #Science #Discovery

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17-18 November: Leonid Meteor Shower

This meteor shower is named after the constellation Leo and comes from the Comet Tempel-Tuttle.

24 November: Venus and Jupiter's 'Double Kiss'

The goddess of love and the god of sky and thunder will be in arms reach of each other at dawn on these days.

From Earth, it will look like they're only two degrees apart, and on the 30th the moon will be joining in on the party.

13-14 December: Geminid Meteor Shower

Instead of a comet, these shooting stars are thought to be the debris of an asteroid, specifically the 3200 Phaethon.

21-22 December: Ursid Meteor Shower

The meteors will be active from 17 to 26 December, but peaking overnight on 21-22 December. They are named after the constellation of Ursa Minor.

26 December: Annular Solar Eclipse in South Asia

On the opposite side of the supermoon spectrum, you also get micro-moons when the moon is at its furthest from Earth, and if you're in Saudi Arabia, Oman, southern India, northern Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Singapore on Boxing Day this year, you'll see a solar eclipse with a micro-moon.

Because the moon won't be close enough to block out the sun, it will create a 'ring of fire' around the celestial being, which you can only look at using solar safety glasses.

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