(Updated 9 November 2014) This article provides a brief overview of the predictable significant astronomy and space events that will occur in 2015 which you may wish to use in your teaching of the ‘Earth and Space Sciences’ Science Understandings.
I would encourage you to incorporate the use of these events in your teaching to ensure that students have experienced at least some of these events with their own eyes. As teachers we need to remember that it is important that students emotionally engage with Science. I believe we have failed as teachers if we have ensured that students can pass their assessment but have no interest or emotional connection in what they have studied. Fortunately this is very easy to do in the astronomy and space science areas using the below list of events.
If you plan to do nothing else from this list, I would recommend that you arrange an astronomy night for your students in the few months following Saturn reaching opposition. Students are consistently stunned by their first view of Saturn through a telescope. Comments I continue to hear after 20 years of assisting in such nights are “Is that real?” or “It looks fake!”. Looking at the Moon through a telescope usually produces similar comments.
Note that the list is biased towards events that occur in the evening sky and are visible to the unaided eye. It does not represent a full list of astronomical events occuring in 2015. For those interested in a fantastic almanac for 2015, I highly recommend Quasar Publishing’s annual yearbook available in good book shops or directly from the publisher.
This article is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported licence by Paul Floyd in October 2014 (www.nightskyonline.info). You are free to reproduce and distribute this resource for non-commercial purposes but not to modify it in any way without permission from the author. Full licence conditions at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/.
Term 1 2015
Queensland school term 1 dates: Tuesday 27 January – Thursday 2 April 2015
7 February Jupiter at opposition.
21 – 23 February Venus and Mars close. Evening twilight sky.
21 March Autumn Equinox.
? April NASA Dawn spacecraft arrives at Ceres.
4 April Total Lunar Eclipse.
Term 2 2015
Queensland school term 2 dates: Monday 20 April – Friday 26 June 2015
25 April – 30 May Venus crosses Milky Way. Evening sky.
23 May Saturn at opposition. All night.
7 June Venus greatest elongation East. Evening twilight sky.
22 June Winter Solstice
30 June – 2 July Venus and Jupiter dazzlingly close. Evening sky.
Term 3 2015
Queensland school term 3 dates: Monday 13 July – Friday 18 September 2015
13 – 30 July Venus passes Regulus.
14 July New Horizons arrives at Pluto. Get your students to imagine what Pluto will look like.
19 July Venus totally occulted by Moon for locations North of Brisbane (Queensland). Brisbane and Gold Coast residents will be able to watch part of Venus sticking out from behind the Moon throughout the occultation. Morning daytime event. Binoculars recommended. Caution is required as the Sun will only be 32 degrees away from the Moon at the time of occultation.
25 July Minor planet Ceres at opposition. Binoculars required.
4 September Mercury greatest elongation East (27 degrees). Best time to view Mercury for year in
23 September Spring Solstice
29 September Minor planet Vesta at opposition. Binoculars required.
Term 4 2015
Queensland school term 4 dates: Tuesday 6 October – Friday 11 December 2015
9 October Venus occulted by the Moon. Morning pre-dawn sky.
25 – 28 October Venus and Jupiter close. Morning sky.
22 December Summer Solstice.