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star gazing

Star attractions: Here's what we'll be seeing in the skies in 2017

Saturn, Venus and shooting stars are set to feature across Irish skies in 2017.

THE SUPERMOON THAT was seen over Ireland in November was one of the more impressive sights in our skies in 2016, but 2017 promises to have several more wondrous sights for all the stargazers out there.

Astronomy Ireland’s David Moore told that there’s plenty to look forward to over the coming months.

“The planet Venus will shine brightly for the first few months of the year,” he said. Passing close to Mars in February, it promises to be quite a sight.

NASCAR Daytona Trucks Auto Racing Venus, lower left, and Mars in view with the moon in Florida in February 2015 Phelan M. Ebenhack AP / Press Association Images Phelan M. Ebenhack AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

According to Moore, Venus is “100 times brighter” than the next brightest star so should be instantly recognisable on a clear night. And no matter what location in Ireland you’re in, it should be visible.

“We also have two good shooting stars due in August and December,” Moore added.

In terms of the eliciting the oohs and aahs, for Moore it’ll be the appearance of Saturn during the summer that will impress.

“It’ll be out star attraction,” he said. “People with telescopes will be able to see the rings of the planet.”

Moore added that Astronomy Ireland will run workshops after Christmas for people who received a telescope as a present during the festive season but don’t know how best to use it.

While stars may be bright above Irish skies next year, it is America that will capture the imagination of star gazers worldwide in 2017, when a total solar eclipse occurs in August.

This occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth, and fully blocks the Sun.

It is due to occur in the north Pacific Ocean at 4.48pm Irish time on 21 August 2017, during sunrise. It will be seen in over 20 states, from Oregon to South Carolina.

Moore and fellow astronomy enthusiasts will take a trip to the US to watch the day turn to night. “We’d only see a tiny bit of it in Ireland,” he said.

Unfortunately for us, a total solar eclipse won’t be seen again in Ireland until 23 September 2090.

If you can’t wait long, there’ll still be plenty for us to see if we take the time to look up next year.

Read: As the moon rises over Ireland at 5pm, it will be the biggest it’s been in 68 years

Read: Did you see an ‘extremely bright’ fireball blaze across the sky last night? Lots of people did

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