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Looking for something to do this year? Head on over to Universe Today and have your calendar open: They have a list of the best astronomical events that’ll happen in 2016.
It’s a big list, and you’ll need a telescope for most of them. But not all! Quite a few things are easily visible to the naked eye, or using binoculars.
Personally, here are the ones I’m looking forward to most:
March 8: Jupiter at opposition—that means it’s opposite the Sun in the sky, so it’s up all night, and as close to Earth as it gets for the year. This is the best time to observe it!
May 9: Mercury transits the Sun. This may be the biggest event of the year; transits are relatively rare and very cool to watch. I’ll have a blog post about this in a few months, closer to the date.
June 3: Saturn at opposition. It’s been a while since I’ve seen Saturn through a telescope, so this’ll be nice.
July 16: Mercury passes half a degree from Venus. That’ll be pretty.
Aug. 12: The Perseid meteor shower peaks.
Aug. 27: Venus passes just 4 arcminutes from Jupiter. This will be spectacular! The Moon is 30 arcminutes (0.5 degrees) wide, to give you an idea of how tight this pairing will be. Unfortunately they'll only be about 20° away from the Sun, making viewing a bit tough. If it's clear, I may try for it even in broad daylight with my telescope.
Oct. 19: The Moon passes in front of the bright star Aldebaran.
Dec. 13: Geminid meteor shower peaks.
That’s not a bad haul, and I’m hoping to see quite a few of the events on the list. Head over to UT and see what tickles your brain. And they have the list in handy HTML and iCal formats, too, making it easy to remind yourself to do what I keep telling y’all to do: Look up!