What to expect from the year 2015?

I asked our panel about their predictions of the year 2015. What to expect in astronomy, what will be top news, will we make any outstanding discoveries?

Fraser Cain (publisher at Universetoday.com, co-host of Astronomy Cast)

2015 is going to be the year of the dwarf planets, of course. We’ll have our first close encounter of Pluto with New Horizons, and Dawn will visit Ceres. Pluto is going to be huge news, and the photos will finally allow everyone to throw out those overused artist illustrations and start using some real photographs. We’ll finally know what that big white spot is on Ceres. I’m incredibly excited for both.

The other big news will be the Elon Musk/SpaceX show. We counted 17 planned launches in 2015, including the new Falcon Heavy, which will be the most powerful rocket launched since the Saturn V. And if SpaceX can dial in the barge landing, they’re well on their way to cracking reusable rocketry.

Finally, I think this is the year that astronomers will announce an Earth-sized world, orbiting a Sun-like star in the habitable zone. We’ve had all the pieces, but not together, yet. Maybe this will be the year that we finally find another Earth.

Nicole Gugliucci (“Noisy astronomer”, blogger, educator, post-doc)

So I’ve been trying to think of “predictions” but of course, that’s a tricky business! But I think it’s safe to say that a few areas of astronomy will continue to see some exciting discoveries. For example, the exoplanet count will go up, especially as ground-based telescopes continue to follow-up on the candidate exoplanets discovered by the Kepler Telescope.

I’d also say to look from some new and exciting radio images to come from the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array in Chile. As the entire facility comes online and data analysis techniques are refined, the imaging capability will only get better. We were pretty impressed by the image of a protoplanetary disk recently, but there is sure to be more of that to come.

Of course, we’ll have spacecraft arriving at dwarf planets Ceres and Pluto. To be honest, I have NO idea what we’ll discover there, but we’ll surely confirm much of what we already know from Hubble images and discover something completely baffling.

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