Sunday, January 7, 2018

Still Life with Robin: 2018 Future and Past and Palindromes

NASA: Full Moon Blog
by Peggy Robin

We’re already a week into 2018 – only 51 more weeks till 2019! – and high time to consider what the year will bring us in the way of astronomical events and historic anniversaries.

The first Big Thing in the night sky is coming up at the end of this month:
January 31 - The Super Blue Moon Eclipse:
(First time in 150 years that these things have come together.)

The full moon does not make an appearance at all in the month of February, coming back again twice in March (1st and 31st – and it's the second appearance of a full moon within a month that is called a “blue moon.” A blue moon is not such a rare thing, occurring in any given year from once to three times. But a month without any full moon at all is a much rarer thing - 2009 being the last year having a month without a full moon.

March 7th and 8th will bring us the “Parade of Planets” – that’s 5 bright planets all visible at once….if we're blessed with a clear night:

On July 29 the focus will be on Mars, the red planet, which will be at its closest point to earth since 2003 – illuminated by the full moon. Then throughout August Mars will appear in the night sky like a large bright orangey star. According to National Georgraphic, the closeness and brightness of Mars throughout the month will lead to “a month of Mars-watching some astronomers call `Marsapalooza.`”

Let’s now skip ahead to winter and the brightest comet to come along in years. Here’s National Geographic again, telling us what to expect on December 12:

“If early predictions play out, comet 46P/Wirtanen may brighten enough in December to be spotted easily with the unaided eye. If it does attain naked-eye visibility, it will be the brightest comet seen from the Northern Hemisphere in more than five years. The icy interloper will reach perihelion—its closest approach to the sun—on December 12 and will be traveling through the bright winter constellation Taurus, the bull.  Only four days after it slingshots around the sun, the comet will make its closest approach to Earth, coming within 7.2 million miles of the planet on its way toward the outer solar system. At this point, the comet should be easy to hunt down as it passes by the brilliant Pleiades and Hyades star clusters.”

Twenty-eighteen has a Palindrome Week from August 10 to August 19 – that is, 8-10-18 through 8-19-18 (reading the same forwards and backwards). But only one day this year is a full 4-digit-year format Palindrome Day: 8-10-2018.

And now a quick race through time for a few historical anniversaries:

We will be hearing a lot throughout the year of the fifty year anniversaries of all the upheavals of 1968 (RFK, MLK assassinations, student revolts at universities around the world).

Feb 27 2018 will mark the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein – with read-ins and other commemorative events scheduled around the world. Go to to find Frankenstein Bicentennial event near you.

November 11, 2018 will be the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, the end of World War I.

And on July 29 it will be one thousand years since Count Dirk III won the Battle of Vlaardigen in Holland, defeating the forces of the Holy Roman Emperor. (be sure to scroll down the page to see the modern-day re-enactors of the battle in their chain mail and battle gear!)
Count Dirk’s name may not be on the tip of your tongue, but this July in Holland, there will be a Millennium Victory Celebration….and you might just want to be there!

Wishing you all many reasons to celebrate in 2018!

Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local, usually on Saturdays but occasionally on Sundays. 

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