Leap years are needed to keep our modern day calendar in alignment with the Earth’s revolutions around the sun.
It takes the Earth approximately 365.242189 days – or 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds – to circle once around the Sun. However, the modern calendar has only 365 days in a year, so if there wasn’t a leap day on February 29 nearly every four years, we would lose almost six hours off our calendar every year. After 100 years, our calendar would be off by about 24 days!
Cargo Resupply Mission to the International Space Station
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Dragon CRS-20 cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. It will lift off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 06:45 GMT. Watch it live.
An Arianespace Soyuz rocket is scheduled to launch the Falcon Eye 2 Earth-imaging satellite for the United Arab Emirates. It will lift off from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana a 01:33 GMT on March 6. Watch it live.
A celebration of British Science Week at the National Space Centre! Get hands-on with real science, discover new missions heading to space, learn about the vibrant UK space industry and the career opportunities within it, hear inspiring speakers and meet astronauts including Tim Peake and Helen Sharman. Find out more here!
The Lyrids meteor shower runs from April 16th-25th and usually produces about 20 meteors per hour at its peak, which will occur on the night of the 22nd April. The Lyrids meteor shower is produced by dust particles left behind by comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher and the meteors can occasionally produce bright dust trails that last for several seconds.
This shower will be best viewed after midnight on April 22nd, in a dark location, with as little light pollution as possible, the almost new Moon will provide dark skies for this year’s event. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Lyra, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
30th Anniversary of the Launch of the Hubble Space Telescope
Hubble Space Telescope launched from shuttle Discovery, weighing approximately 11,355 kg. The first image taken by Wide Field/Planetary Camera was released 20 May 1990. A spherical aberration in the optical system, which severely reduced the quality of the images produced was announced publicly June 27.
May 6th and 7th. The Eta Aquarids is an above average meteor shower, with up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak. Most of the activity is seen in the Southern Hemisphere. In the Northern Hemisphere, the rate can reach about 30 meteors per hour. It is produced by dust particles left behind by comet Halley, which has known and observed since ancient times. The shower runs annually from April 19 to May 28. It peaks this year on the night of May 6 and the morning of the May 7. The Moon will be almost full at the peak which may block out all but the brightest meteors. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Aquarius, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
45th Anniversary of the Founding of the European Space Agency
There are 10 founding members: Belgium, Germany, Denmark, France, United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and Spain. Ireland joins later in the year. ESA launches its first major scientific mission, Cos-B, a satellite monitoring gamma-ray emissions in the Universe, which operates for over six years, four years longer than planned.