Skywatchers look forward to exciting 2012: museum


TAIPEI–A series of celestial events, including an annular solar eclipse, will make 2012 an exciting year for sky-watchers in Taiwan, according to the Taipei Astronomical Museum.

The lineup of events stretches from January to December, with highlights such as the very rare transit of Venus across the sun on June 5 and 6 and some prolific meteor showers, the museum said. The transit of Venus as it passes between the Earth and the sun will take six hours and will not occur again until 2117, said Chang Kuei-lan, an assistant researcher at the museum.

However, the most spectacular event of the year will be an annular solar eclipse that will be visible in northern Taiwan on May 21, she said.

An annular eclipse occurs when the sun and moon are exactly in line, but the apparent size of the moon is smaller than that of the sun. From Earth, the sun appears as a bright ring, or annulus, around the moon.

It is an event that was last visible in Taiwan 1958, Chang said.

“I will give it a five-star rating,” she said.