Is there a lunar eclipse in 2017
The sky and space year 2017
The new year is all about Saturn - initially with spectacular images of the rings that the Cassini spacecraft is supposed to send to Earth. On September 15, 2017, the planetary researchers will look at the sky with a lot of sadness. On this day, Cassini will be directed into Saturn and will burn up in its cloud layers at 12.07 p.m. (UT).
It will be the end of an extremely successful mission: Cassini has been orbiting Saturn as an artificial moon since 2004. The space probe transmitted measurement data and unique images of the planet, its rings and moons to Earth almost every day. The space probe was launched in 1997 and arrived at Saturn after seven years of flight, and has been there for 13 years - much, much longer than originally planned.
Saturn has been accompanied by the Cassini probe for 13 years. This recording is also from her. 2017 is over.
Pride and sadness accompany the last "dinosaur" to death by heat
Cassini is the last "dinosaur" probe - a project from when NASA was planning multi-billion dollar missions to explore our solar system. The two Voyager probes or the Galileo probe, which orbited the giant planet Jupiter for years, belong to this category.
Amazingly, almost all devices on board Cassini are still working, although the probe was last serviced almost 20 years ago. Before the end of the space probe's last big show: In the coming months, Cassini will once again be flying particularly close to the rings of Saturn, taking unmatched sharp images and capturing gas, dust and ice particles that are analyzed on board.
When the radio signal suddenly falls silent in mid-September, tears will surely also flow - like at the end of Europe's comet probe at the end of September 2016. But the scientists involved, including a group from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Göttingen, have a particle measuring device on Supervised on board the probe, you will then be proud of what you have achieved.
Crash as heavenly environmental protection
The Cassini probe sent this photo of a Saturn moon to Earth
As much as the researchers would be delighted if the mission could be carried out longer - the fuel on board is almost used up, making orbit corrections hardly possible. The astronauts want to make sure that Cassini doesn't fall uncontrollably onto one of Saturn's moons. There are two very special ones: the largest moon Titan with a dense atmosphere and the icy moon Enceladus, which has a huge ocean under its ice armor, as Cassini's measurements show.
In the Enceladus Ocean there is probably even simple life. The Cassini team wants to keep this moon clean. It is feared that a crash could bring in terrestrial microbes that may still exist inside Cassini. That is why NASA decided on the targeted end: the two-ton probe will burn up in Saturn - better safe than sorry. The planet doesn't care.
Is the US returning to space?
Will SpaceX bring the first tourists to the ISS soon?
The International Space Station continues to orbit the earth in 2017. The routine program runs with six people on board at a time. The German astronaut Alexander Gerst will not fly to the space station again until 2018. But towards the end of 2017, SpaceX, the private company that is supplying the ISS on behalf of NASA, plans to send its new spaceship to the ISS. So far, the Dragon capsule has only brought material into space.
If everything goes smoothly during the test, people could also fly to the ISS with the Dragon from 2018. For the first time since the end of the shuttle fleet in 2011, the USA would be able to send astronauts - and also German space travelers - directly from Cape Canaveral in Florida to the space station. Currently there are only flights from the Russian spaceport Baikonur.
Maiden flight of the Mars rocket
SpaceX wants to take another hurdle in 2017: The Falcon Heavy, a particularly powerful rocket, is scheduled to launch for the first time in the middle of the year. It is urgently needed for the company's soaring plans for trips to Mars, etc. SpaceX has had some setbacks lately - 2017 could be a pivotal year for US commercial space travel. In addition, all experts are waiting to see what space policy the new government will pursue. When President Barack Obama took office in 2009, he forced NASA to make a sharp correction.
Venus, Jupiter, Saturn - but hardly any Mars
In 2017, Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn become particularly prominent
2017 is a good year for Venus. Our inner neighbor planet shows itself in January and February as a shining evening star. From April onwards, Venus will shine as a morning star - for a good six months. Mars, which was a conspicuous object in the sky in 2016, is taking a break. But Jupiter shines conspicuously - it can already be seen in the hours after midnight. From March to May it shows up all night.
For Central Europe, Saturn is very low in the sky - observers in the southern hemisphere see him high in the sky. Saturn reaches its best position of the year in mid-June - in the northern hemisphere it adorns the short, mild summer nights from May to August. When you see Saturn, always think of the Cassini space probe, which orbits it in the northern summer.
Shooting stars with little moonlight
2017 will be a good year for falling stars
Unlike 2016, when the moon outshines many meteors with its glaring light, 2017 will be a good year for falling stars. The Perseids scurry across the sky from August 10 to 14, the Leonids from November 16 to 19 and the Geminids from December 11 to 14. With the Perseids the moon is a bit annoying and outshines some falling stars with its light - but Leonids and Geminids take place almost at the new moon. In 2017, meteor fans have a lot to wish for.
The "Great American Eclipse"
The astronomical high point of the year is the total solar eclipse on August 21 in the USA. In a narrow strip from Oregon across the continent to Georgia, day turns into night for a maximum of 2 minutes and 40 seconds. Part of this eclipse can be seen throughout North and Central America. On February 26th, there will be a ring-shaped eclipse in South America and parts of Africa. The moon is also right in front of the sun, but it is too small to completely cover the solar disk. Therefore a bright sun ring remains to be seen.
Just a disappointing lunar eclipse
There won't be such a beautiful blood moon as here in 2015 next year
There was no beautiful lunar eclipse in 2016, and the moon is stingy in 2017 as well: There will be a partial lunar eclipse on August 7th. At 6:21 p.m. (UT) about a quarter of the moon's disk is in the umbra of the earth. This spectacle can be seen particularly well from Australia and large parts of Asia, Africa and Europe.
When the spectacle is over on August 7th, you can look forward to 2018. It will be a good eclipse year with two total lunar eclipses. 2018 will also be very exciting with many projects in space travel, such as the launch of the successor to the Hubble space telescope. But first of all, 2017 will be a little quieter in the sky - but there is still a lot to discover in the sky on every clear night!
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