Sun, Jan 22, 2012 - Page 2 News List

Busy astronomical calendar predicted for year ahead

STARRY, STARRY NIGHT:The year ahead will feature a transit of Venus across the sun, an annular solar eclipse and the Perseid and Geminid meteor showers

Staff Writer, with CNA

A series of celestial events, including an annular solar eclipse, will make this year an exciting year for skywatchers in Taiwan, the Taipei Astronomical Museum said yesterday.

The lineup of events stretches from now until December, with highlights including a very rare transit of Venus across the sun on June 5 and 6 and some spectacular meteor showers, the museum said.

The transit of Venus as it passes between the Earth and the sun will take six hours and will not occur again until 2117, Taipei Astronomical Museum assistant researcher Chang Kuei-lan (張桂蘭) said.

However, the most spectacular event of the year will be an annular solar eclipse that will be visible in northern Taiwan on May 21, she said.

An annular eclipse occurs when the sun and moon are exactly in line, but the apparent size of the moon is smaller than that of the sun. From Earth, the sun appears as a bright ring, or annulus, around the moon.

It is an event that was last visible in Taiwan in 1958, Chang said.

“I give it a five-star rating,” she said.

Other celestial events this year include the Perseids in August and Geminids in December, two meteor showers that are each expected to produce more than 100 shooting stars per hour, she said.

However, the visibility of these celestial events will depend largely on weather conditions, she said.

In December, skygazers missed a rare total lunar eclipse due to heavily overcast conditions.

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