Look! Up in the Sky! 101 Astronomical Events in 2014!

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Jan. 5 2014 8:00 AM

Look! Up in the Sky! 101 Astronomical Events in 2014!

occultation
In 2012 the Moon passed directly in front of Venus, an event astronomers call an occultation. This will happen with the Moon and several planets in 2014.

Photo by Kwon O Chul (from a time-lapse video; click the picture to see it)

One of the biggest joys of astronomy is doing it yourself. Sure, I love to talk about the science and history of different astronomical objects, describe colorful and deep Hubble images of galaxies, and point out the minutiae and overlooked bits hiding in the corner of a nebula somewhere. But there’s nothing like going out under the stars and taking a look for yourself.

I get a lot of email and tweets asking about upcoming events, and I usually have to dig through the Net and my planetarium software to see what’s what. However, the good folks at Universe Today have made that a lot easier: They just posted a list of 101 astronomical events in 2014 to look for!

Advertisement

Most of these events are visible to the naked eye, including meteor showers, conjunctions, and occultations (when two objects, usually planets and the Moon, get close together in the sky or even pass directly in front of one another), and of course solar and lunar eclipses. Some are best with binoculars, and with others you’ll need a telescope. And some—like the equinoctes, solstices, and planetary orbital milestones—are just interesting to know. With this list you’ll be forewarned of cool stuff going on over your head, and forearmed with cocktail party info in case you bump into another astrogeek, or astrogeek-in-training, or someone who’s an astrogeek and doesn’t even know it yet.

As for me, I’m looking forward to quite a few of these. On Jan. 25, the Moon will be very close to Saturn for most viewers, and even though it’s in the early pre-dawn sky, I might take a shot at it. A month later the Moon slides by Venus, too. There are lots of interesting events involving Jupiter’s moons, including casting shadows on the planet’s face, that should be visible in my telescope. And now that I can take better pictures through my ‘scope, I’m hoping that 2014 will bring a return of my own astrophotography! I spent many, many hours as a kid taking photos with my old ‘scope (I rolled my own film and developed it in my bathroom), and I’d love a chance to use modern tech to do this again.

So get outside! Look up! 2014 will be an interesting year astronomically, and there’s a whole Universe to explore.

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

I Am 25. I Don’t Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.

The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don’t Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.

Republicans Want the Government to Listen to the American Public on Ebola. That’s a Horrible Idea.

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Tom Hanks Has a Short Story in the New Yorker. It’s Not Good.

Brow Beat

Marvel’s Civil War Is a Far-Right Paranoid Fantasy

It’s also a mess. Can the movies do better?

Watching Netflix in Bed. Hanging Bananas. Is There Anything These Hooks Can’t Solve?

The Procedural Rule That Could Prevent Gay Marriage From Reaching SCOTUS Again

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
  Life
Outward
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 20 2014 4:59 PM Canadian Town Cancels Outdoor Halloween Because Polar Bears
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.