The shortest lunar month of the year starts with the new moon on May 6, 2016! What is a lunar month? It’s just the duration between successive new moons. It’s also called a lunation or synodic month. Although the lunar month has a mean period of 29.53059 days (29 days 12 hours and 44 minutes), the actual length varies throughout the year. We list the lunar months of 2016 for you, highlighting the shortest and longest lunar months of 2016 inside…
We don’t need to look for Earth-like planets exclusively around sun-like stars. Ultracool dwarf star TRAPPIST-1 hosts 3 potentially habitable Earth-sized planets, say researchers.
Astronomers are calling it a Manx comet, for the tailless cat species. They first believed C/2014 S3 (PANSTARRS) was a long-period comet without a tail, but, on studying its light, found that it more closely resembles a rocky asteroid. Now they think this object is an asteroid, formed billions of years ago in the inner solar system and ejected early on to the deep freeze of space in our solar system’s Oort Cloud.
Dates of major moon phases, conjunctions and oppositions of planets, meteor showers and other important dates in 2016, from astronomer Fred Espenak.
“Since three years ago, we have planned to shoot this photo. We went to the zone repeatedly but every time we got nothing … until now.” – Sergio Vindas
In Ethiopia’s Danakil Depression, near-boiling water bubbles up from underground, high salt concentrations create yellow towers, toxic vapor fogs the air. Can any life survive there? Scientists are trying to find out.
On May 22, 2016, Earth will fly between Mars and the sun, bringing the red planet closer to Earth than it’s been for over a decade. Astronomers call this event an opposition of Mars, and, although Mars’ oppositions typically come every other year, some bring Mars especially close. That’s the case this year. Follow the links inside to learn more.
Video of this year’s oppositions of Mars and Saturn, in front of the constellations Libra and Scorpius. Notice Mars appearing larger around its May 22 opposition! Lots more, plus essential links, inside.
In 2016, the forecast calls for the greatest number of Eta Aquarid meteors to light up the predawn darkness on May 5 and 6. It should be a good year for this shower, with the May 6 new moon guaranteeing deliciously dark skies for the 2016 Eta Aquarids. This shower favors the Southern Hemisphere, ranking as one of the finest showers of the year. At mid-northern latitudes, these meteors don’t fall so abundantly, though mid-northern meteor watchers will catch some, too, and might be lucky enough to catch an earthgrazer – a bright, long-lasting meteor that travels horizontally across the sky – before dawn. Follow the links inside to learn more about the Eta Aquarids!