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Astronomical predictions

There will be a solar eclipse across South America and the Pacific Ocean
on July 11th, 2010.

On Thursday October 26th, 2028, at about 13.30 Universal Time, an asteroid
will pass by near to the Earth.

Past success: A predicted planet

The planet Uranus was discovered about 200 years ago. People tried to predict its future positions in the sky. The predictions didn’t quite work. One possible explanation was that there was another big planet, even further away than Uranus. The gravity of this ‘invented’ planet could pull on Uranus. That would explain why Uranus didn’t move quite as expected.

So astronomers looked. And there was this new planet, exactly where it was predicted to be. They called the predicted planet Neptune.

Planning space missions

You can see Saturn in the sky on some nights. It isn’t a very big target. Projects like the journey of the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn would have been impossible without extensive planning, and spot-on predictions.

Neptune, as seen by the Voyager II spacecraft. Photo: NASA
Click to enlarge

Activity: Booking in advance

Solar eclipses, when the Moon moves across the face of the Sun, are very special. Some people book their holidays to see them. On March 29th 2006, for example, a lot of people went to Turkey because a solar eclipse would take place there (see the photo).

Do a Google search on: solar eclipse turkey. On the first page of results, how many websites are dated from before the eclipse? What are they advertising? Find a website advertising trips to see a future solar eclipse. Is this advisable, list the pros and cons?

Next: Astrological predictions


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