2018 Backyard Astronomy Events: Conjunction, Partial Solar Eclipse, Meteor Showers & More

Put on your space helmet and let’s explore the night sky. A variety of astronomical wonders can be observed during 2018. Host your own meteor shower party, or schedule some time to photograph an astronomical conjunction. Mars is also getting ready to wage war—do you have what it takes to survive the battle? Arm yourself with a celestial infographic and choose your own cosmic adventure.

Astronomical conjunctions are relatively common, so take advantage of the situation and scratch this event off your bucket list.  July 15, 2018—the Moon and Venus will appear close together in the evening sky. Telescopes or special gear are not required to observe this event. The Moon occasionally swings near the ecliptic (plane of the solar system projected onto the sky), and it just so happens that Venus will also be in the same vicinity. Lucky you.

Venus and the Moon are bright enough to easily locate in the evening sky, however, don’t be lazy! Venus sets below the horizon relatively early. You’ve been warned.

Astronomical conjunctions are also easy to observe and photograph. Slap a camera on a basic tripod and let it rip, baby. You’re limited by your imagination…as long as you know what you’re doing. The Moon will appear much further away on July 16, 2018. If you want to see or record the closest approach, then make sure to observe the conjunction on July 15, 2018.

Crescent Moon & Venus

Moon & Venus Observation Tips

Date: July 15, 2018

  1. Scout for a clear horizon

  2. Travel to your destination early

  3. Set up gear before dusk (especially if you’re using a camera/telescope)

  4. Avoid rushing to the destination (you’ll make mistakes. Trust me.)

  5. Use the Moon as a visual guide to locate Venus

Crescent Moon & Venus Conjunction (2015)

Telescopicwatch.com sent me an infographic which features a variety of astronomical events. Your eyeballs won’t have a problem digesting the lovely space art, while your brain devours the bite-sized information.

Easy to read. Easy to see. Easy to remember. Take a gander at the infographic and then schedule some time to become one with the universe.

Image Credit: TelescopicWatch.com

Astro News

You’ll need specialized gear to directly observe the 2018 partial solar eclipse. Don’t burn your eye out, kid. Glass solar filters should be your first line of defense, especially if you’re hovering above an eyepiece. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Glass solar filters are expensive. Do you know what else is expensive? Eye surgery. Take your pick. Orion Telescopes & Binoculars sell decent glass solar filters, however, glass solar filters are designed to fit snugly on certain telescopes.

You can also wear fashionable solar shades…if you’re cool enough.

Neptune and Uranus can only be observed with decent optics, but on July 17, 2018—Mars is scheduled to be on the warpath. You’ve been warned. Mark your calendar…in blood! Because that’s what warriors do. Just kidding. The Red Planet will appear unusually bright and you don’t need to use a telescope. Don’t forget to bring your shield.

Naked eye comets don’t swing around too often, and some of them are susceptible to unpredictable paroxysms. Due to a typical comet’s highly elliptical orbit—solar radiation may or may not provoke Comet 46P/Wirtanen to inexplicably brighten as it swings closer to the Sun. Comet 46P/Wirtanen will be visible on December 16, 2018.

There’s still plenty of time to prepare. Dust off your camera and get ready to photograph the night sky. Feel free to also exhume an old binocular or telescope from your scary closet. Small telescopes are able to resolve some detail (coma or tail), and so can a variety of binoculars.

Comet Lovejoy & Satellite

A telescope’s narrow field of view won’t be too useful during a meteor shower. You don’t want to be lookin’ through an eyepiece while pretty meteors are blazin’ somewhere in the opposite direction. Sometimes our squishy eyes are the best kind of optics. Remember that. Sometimes meteor showers end up being duds, though. A few meteor showers can be counted on to host a show worth watching, and if you never have seen a meteor shower, well…what are you doing with your life?

Meteor Shower Observation Tips

  • Look for an uncluttered horizon

  • The darker the better. Avoid artificial light sources

  • Research meteor shower radiant points, and when each meteor shower peaks

  • Wait until midnight (12:00 am)

  • Focus your camera toward specific radiant points and shoot a series of 30-second exposures

Slap a camera on a tripod and let it rip. You never know, right? A shooting star may blaze across the field of view…even if you’re not paying attention. Blastoff a series of 30-second exposures and use a wide-angle lens. You’ll be able to wander around the local vicinity, just check your camera every 30 seconds. Scientific? Nope. Effective? Maybe.

A Lucky Shot (Perseid Shooting Star)

You’re now ready to sharpen your telescope and challenge Mars. Use the infographic and pick your cosmic adventure. I’ll see you outside, space cadet.

If you want to stuff your big brain with more information, click here and visit TelescopicWatch.com

Further Resources




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Published by FlyTrapMan

I have no idea what I'm doing.

7 thoughts on “2018 Backyard Astronomy Events: Conjunction, Partial Solar Eclipse, Meteor Showers & More

  1. Cool night sky events! Thanks for all the fantastic suggestions. The photo of the Perseid Shooting Star is out of this world! So, that was a complete surprise for you to catch the shooting stat? So cool!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Let me know if you’re able to see any of the events. The conjunction (and also Mars) are easy to observe. The shooting star was a complete surprise! I was trying to photograph Algol (Demon Star) and a shooting star blazed across the frame. Lucky me.

      Liked by 1 person

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