Most Interesting Celestial Events of 2014
What astronomical phenomena will be observable to people in different parts of the Earth this year?
2014 will be saturated with celestial events in respect of comets and asteroids, but less intense and interesting in respect of eclipses.
First on the list is a lunar eclipse which will occur on April 15 and will last 1 hour 19 minutes. Only the inhabitants of North and South America will be able to see the complete eclipse.
In 2 weeks after that, on April 29, a partial solar eclipse will take place when the Moon will cover the sun only partially. The eclipse will reach its maximum phase in Antarctica and will be observable to the inhabitants of Australia and Tasmania. The eclipse will last only 6 minutes.
The next eclipse will be a full moon, which will take place on October 8. This time, the eclipse will be seen to the inhabitants of North America, the eastern part of Russia, Australia, New Zealand and some other Pacific islands. This eclipse is interesting because during the total phase the Moon will cover Uranus.
Last eclipse of the list is a partial solar eclipse, which will happen on October 23 and will be visible in North America and eastern Russia.
The brightest asteroid of this year will be Vesta, one of the largest asteroids in the main asteroid belt. Its brightness is expected to peak in April when it will be visible with the naked eye. The second brightest asteroid will be Pallas, which is larger than Vesta and ranks first in size among all the asteroids in the main asteroid belt. Pallas will be seen later this month. Among the other most interesting asteroids, Hebe and Juno are worth noting.
Some sources mistakenly attributed Ceres to the asteroids and included it in the list above. However, Ceres had been considered an asteroid till August 24, 2006, when it was classified as a dwarf planet.
The bigger an asteroid is, the more sunlight it reflects. However, the brightness of an asteroid is heavily dependent on the albedo (reflectivity characteristics of its surface), which in turn is determined by the composition of its constituent species. For example, the asteroid Vesta reflects 4 times more light than the dwarf planet Ceres because of the high albedo of the surface and is the most visible asteroid in the sky, which often can be seen even with the naked eye.
The brightest comets will be 154P (P/Brewington), C/2011 W3 (Lovejoy), C/2012 X1 (LINEAR), C/2012 K1 (PanSTARRS) and C/2013 A1 (McNaught). The list may vary depending on the expected increase in brightness and the discovery of new comets.