Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Star light, star bright

A beautiful gathering of the crescent Moon and Venus last evening reminds me that it's time to curl up with Guy Ottewell's Astronomical Calendar 2012 and anticipate my year of stargazing.

Two solar eclipses, one annular (May 20-21), one total (November 13-14), but both expending themselves mostly over the waters of the Pacific. Not on my agenda.

Not much for lunar eclipses, one partial, one penumbral, also mostly Pacific and East Asian events.

There is an historic transit of Venus in early June, when the planet moves across the face of the Sun, a first since 2004. Before that, the last transit was in 1882, and the next will be in 2117. A pair of transits in a lifetime. Alas, this is also mostly a Pacific event.

No prominent occultations for parts of the world where I'll be residing.

So, all in all, a fairly ho-hum year.

Did I say "ho-hum"? No, never. Every night can offer some special moment of beauty.

Venus and Jupiter will be doing a lovely dance together during the first part of the year. Mid-March, especially, will be notable here in Exuma with our glorious view of the western sky.

I'll be in Ireland in August when Mars, Saturn and Spica make a tight gathering in the west at sunset, joined on August 21 by a slim crescent Moon.

Some stunning Moon-planet conjunctions, exquisitely thin new and old Moons, meteor showers. An almanac of wonders.