there were so many errors in this travel item in the 1jan, sunday tampa bay times) i had to send this correction letter to the reporter and her editors.
ref: http://www.tampabay.com/features/tra...cle1208138.ece scroll to astro items ('lighted sky' and 'total eclipse of the sky' -- !?)
hello janet - as a former planetarium lecturer and astrophysics student, i am encouraged when the general public is directed to look toward the skies and view its many splendors.
indeed there are several astronomical events occurring in 2012 -- worth traveling to far corners of the globe -- but i have to make these corrections
> there seems to be confusion regarding the two special events where a astronomical body passes in front of the sun (as seen from earth)
the 'transit of venus' (where the planet venus passes directly across the solar disk -- last seen in 2004 and next visible in 2117) takes place on 5/6 june. this is best viewed from places like japan, though florida will get a glimpse shortly before sunset on tuesday 5 june. ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transit_of_Venus,_2012
a 'total solar eclipse' (where the moon passes directly in front of the sun, completely blocking the solar disk revealing the ghost-like corona) takes place once or twice a year, but is visible from just a narrow (100-mile-wide) path on the earth's surface. for the event of 13/14 nov (the path crosses the international dateline), one of the few viewing spots from land is indeed cairns, australia. ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_e...ember_13,_2012
> as far as i've learned, there is no 'total eclipse of the sky'
> 'the lighted sky' unfortunately, the forecast for solar and auroral activity is based on dated -- and now inaccurate -- solar cycle information. in fact, the 2012/2013 'solar maximum' is now expected to be among the weakest in nearly eighty years. ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_cycle_24
An international panel of experts led by NOAA and sponsored by NASA has released a new prediction for the next solar cycle. Solar Cycle 24 will peak, they say, in May 2013 with a below-average number of sunspots.
"If our prediction is correct, Solar Cycle 24 will have a peak sunspot number of 90, the lowest of any cycle since 1928
> events everyone in florida can easily see, include the close planetary conjunction of brilliant venus and jupiter, visible in the evening skies in early march. both are now easily visible in the evening sky, and will be getting closer over the coming months.