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Excitement Garden

Updated: Mar 3

5 Things to Look Forward to in the Sky Through 2022

Credit: Trevor Kjorlien, Plateau Astro


One of the hardest things about the last two years has been not knowing which events were certain to happen. Will schools re-open? Will we have to teach online-only? Will we be allowed to travel again?


While life and teaching are still difficult, the shock of living day-to-day is replaced with some semblance of order and planning.


Here’s the great thing about astronomy: no matter what happens on Earth, up there, the cosmic ballet goes on.


My strategy for 2022 is to plant little ‘excitement seeds’: things that will happen in the sky for us to look forward to and are certain to happen. As we get closer to those dates, excitement builds, and eventually we can harvest from our ‘excitement garden’.


Here are 5 little excitement seeds for 2022:


1) Full Moon Rises

Date: Each Full Moon

Time: Early Evening, around Sunset

Location: Everywhere in Canada


The Full Moon happens every month, but there’s an extra surprise: when near the horizon, the Moon will appear larger and a reddish-orange colour.

Moonrise over Montreal. Credit: Trevor Kjorlien, Plateau Astro


If you’ve ever watched a sunrise before (I bet you have), we’re doing the same thing, but with the Moon instead of the Sun! The key is to know what time and direction to look.


For direction, that’s simple: look East, opposite the Sunset.


The full Moon is easy to spot in the sky, so it’s a good time to invite your students to look up. When it’s exactly full, the Moon rises at the same time as the Sun sets. Depending on how low the horizon is, you might have to wait a bit to see it appear, but when it’s that bright, it’s usually pretty easy to notice in the sky.


2) Lunar Eclipse on May 15

Date: May 15

Time: Evening, and middle of the night

Location: All of Canada


During the night of May 15-16, Canada will witness a total lunar eclipse. This is when the shadow of the Earth is cast on the Moon, making it appear red.


Use this interactive map to find the exact time it will appear in your area. Western Canada gets to see the eclipse earlier in the evening, making it easier for everyone to observe it on a Sunday night. In Vancouver, the Moon will rise completely eclipsed at 8:44pm —a nice sight!

Credit: Daniel Henrion/IAU OAE (source)


The lunar eclipse process takes several hours, but be sure to take a look at the eclipse “Maximum”, when the Moon will appear most red. If the weather is clear, it’ll make for a wonderful memory.


3) Jupiter and Saturn

Date: Fall

Time: evening

Location: All of Canada


Starting in late summer, it will become easy to see Jupiter and Saturn in the early evening, appearing as two bright dots. Jupiter will be much brighter and easy to notice. Further to the right, will be fainter Saturn.


To the naked eye, these two planets simply look like bright stars. But with a pair of binoculars, it’s possible to see Jupiter’s largest moons

Jupiter and Saturn in the south-eastern sky in late September. Credit: Stellarium


If you’re new to the sky and wouldn’t know where to find Jupiter and Saturn, there are free apps to help. A great starter app is Star Walk 2, available on iOS and Android. Stellarium Web is also a great tool which works directly in a browser (best used on a desktop).


4) Another Lunar Eclipse

Date: November 8

Time: Early Morning

Location: All of Canada


Another total lunar eclipse will be visible in November but this time Eastern Canada is favored. It will be possible to see the eclipsed Moon at sunrise, which means your students might be able to see it before going to school on this Tuesday morning. People in Western Canada would need to wake up in the middle of the night to observe it.


Use this site to find the exact timing at your location.

Partial lunar eclipse from November 2021. Credit: Trevor Kjorlien, Plateau Astro


5) The Return of Mars

Date: December

Time: Evening

Location: All of Canada


The planet Mars will be back in the evening sky at the end of 2022. Every 26 months, Mars and Earth are closest to one another and this timing, called an ‘opposition’, happens on December 8, 2022. That’s when Mars will be at its brightest, but it will be easy to spot in the sky for weeks around this date. Look for a bright reddish dot in the eastern sky: that’s the Red Planet!

Mars will be visible above the constellation Orion and near the star Aldebaran in late 2022. Credit: Stellarium



Conclusion

This is a very short list of things to see through 2022. There’s plenty we couldn’t get to: meteor showers, seeing the Space Station flyover, planetary conjunctions, etc.


But these 5 seeds —all visible from light-polluted skies and accessible to everyone— will hopefully get you excited for more.


Trevor Kjorlien, founder of Plateau Astro, invites people to observe the sky,

even in the middle of the city. He organizes observational activities in Montreal.

You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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