When it comes to space, 2018 is a pretty interesting year.
SpaceX's Falcon Heavy was launched successfully – even to the surprise of CEO Elon Musk. NASA InSight spacecraft landed on Mars. Another NASA spacecraft, OSIRIS-REx, arrived safely on the Bennu asteroid. And, of course, Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques is working on the International Space Station until June.
Next year should be no less interesting. Here are some interesting things to look forward to in 2019.
Happy New Year!
On July 14, 2015, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft gave us a first glance at Pluto, which is more than five billion kilometers away.
On January 1, New Horizons will once again pass through another world 6.5 billion kilometers away: 2014 MU69, nicknamed Ultima Thule. A cold and irregular body is only about 30 kilometers in diameter and is found in the Kuiper Belt, a disc believed to contain hundreds of thousands of ice worlds and possibly millions of comets again.
New Horizons will fly closer to Thule Ultima than Pluto, allowing for closer inspection of its surface. In 2015, planetary scientists were shocked by what they found on Pluto – ice volcanoes and atmospheres that were thicker than expected – so no one knew what surprises might be revealed by Ultima Thule.
New crew spaceship
When NASA carried out the space shuttle program in 2011, NASA did not have its own means to bring its astronauts to the International Space Station. Instead, it relies on a $ 75 million ride per seat on Soyuz rockets from the Russian space agency.
That will all change.
In 2014, NASA awarded a contract to SpaceX and Boeing to develop the next spacecraft to launch Americans from the country. And in 2019, after years of development and testing, the two companies were set to explode.
On January 17, SpaceX is scheduled to test the Crew Dragon capsule – but without crew. The capsule will launch a successful SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, called Demo-1. Demo-2, with Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, is scheduled for some time in June.
After last year's delay, Boeing will carry out the first flawless launch of the CST-100 Starliner in March, followed by the launch with Eric Boe, Chris Ferguson and Nicole Mann.
Howling on the moon
The first eclipse of the new year is the total lunar eclipse that will be seen right across the country on January 21.
Lunar eclipses occur on average two to four times a year. There are three types of eclipses: total, partial and multiplier.
The total lunar eclipse lasts for hours, when the moon glides through the shadow of the Earth. During the January eclipse, the totality will last for more than one hour.
You might hear this eclipse called the super blood wolf moon. There are three reasons for this dramatic moniker.
First, the moon will be almost on the perigee, or the closest point to the Earth in its elliptical orbit. When this happens and it is a full moon, it becomes popular to call it a "super moon" (although it is visually difficult to say the moon is bigger).
Second, the full moon is named every month, and this month happens to be the "wolf" moon.
And finally, lunar eclipses tend to turn the moon into a reddish color like the sun – which lies behind it – reflects light. Blue is scattered, leaving only red, which is reflected from the moon.
No matter what it's called, it must be a sight.
To the moon!
Over the past few years, there has been a lot of talk about returning to the moon. Three countries have successfully landed spacecraft on the moon: US, Russia (former Soviet Union) and China. But other countries will be added to the list: Israel.
In February – the date has not been confirmed – the non-profit company SpaceIL, together with Israel Aerospace Industries, will send capsules time to month.
The capsule will be launched as a secondary charge above the Falcon 9 rocket. It will contain three discs containing hundreds of digital files that store information such as the Israel Declaration of Independence, the Bible, dictionaries in 27 languages and more.
Meanwhile, China is preparing to return to the month after the Chang rover # 3 which successfully landed in 2013.
Chang & # 39; e 4 was launched on 7 December and reached orbit on 12 December. It is hoped the plow will go to the surface in early January, when the far side of the moon is illuminated by the sun.
China is also expected to launch Chang 'e 5 by the end of 2019. It is designed to collect material from the surface of the moon and return to Earth.
Mercury crosses the sun
Being on the third planet of the sun, we are often treated to a unique visual spectacle: a planet that crosses the face of the sun. This event, called transit, is rare, and and can only occur with Mercury and Venus.
Canada is in a good location to capture the transit of Mercury on November 11. All transits will be seen in the morning in parts of central and southern Ontario and Quebec and throughout Atlantic Canada.
In the West, transit will take place at sunrise. All events will take around 5 ½ hours.
Of course, it's important to remember not to look directly at the sun. Instead, people are encouraged to plan ahead and buy special glasses that block harmful sunlight.
The last time Mercury crossed the sun was in 2016, and that won't happen again until 2032. If you hope to see Venus, the next transit will be in 2117.