Comet ISON has unfortunately been
a fizzler. We were hoping for it to be a big bright comet, but
its close pass to the Sun has apparently made it flare out and
use up whatever ices were on it. So, it's faint, and still too
close to the Sun to easily view, and will probably not get any
brighter. A bit of a disappointment, but comets are like that,
sometimes. For more info on Comet ISON, visit this website (EarthSky),
or some other website - there's plenty of coverage to go around.
Bright Planet Notes for 2013:
Mercury: Best chances for viewing Mercury occur roughly
about a week before and after the following dates and times (AS=After
Sunset, BS=Before Sunrise). Note that Mercury is always close
to the Sun, and whenever it is visible, it will be low to the
eastern or western horizon, just before sunrise (in the east),
or just after sunset (in the west), respectively. Use a pair of
binoculars to aid your attempts, and as always - DO NOT LOOK AT
Venus: A late-year target, becoming visible low
in the west during the early evening hours of November, December
of 2013, and then January 2014, when it again gets lost to the
Sun. However, Venus is so bright, it can be visible even during
the day, if you know how to do it. Warning:
if it's too close to the Sun, it not only won't be visible, the
danger of permanent eye damage from accidentally looking at the
Sun itself increases greatly. Get advice from an amateur astronomer
experienced in daytime Venus viewing before attempting this!
Won’t show up until the pre-dawn hours of August, and will
only become visible in the evening hours by April of 2014. If
you want to see Mars before 2014, you’ll have to either
get up early or stay up late!
Visible in Taurus from January thru mid-April before it’s
lost to the Sun; won’t be back until pre-dawn hours of late
August, and will eventually shift its rise times earlier and earlier
until it becomes easy to view in the evening by the end of the
year in the constellation of Gemini.
Starts to become visible in the pre-dawn hours of January, rising
earlier and earlier until it becomes more easily viewed in the
evening hours around mid-May thru mid-July between Libra and Virgo.
It is once again lost to the Sun by August, and reappears in the
wee hours of February, 2014.
Uranus: Starts the new year fairly
high in the southwestern sky in the constellation Pisces, but
heads west and is lost to the Sun relatively quickly by February.
It reappears in the pre-dawn hours of July (still in Pisces),
and eventually becomes visible in the early evening by November.
Doesn’t appear until the wee hours of August’s eastern
skies, in the constellation of Aquarius, and relatively quickly
becomes an early evening object by early October and remains visible
until around mid-December.
Moons for 2013: Jan 11, Feb 10, Mar 11, Apr 10, May 9,
Jun 8, Jul 8, Aug 6, Sep 5, Oct 4, Nov 3, Dec 2.
showers for 2013 (green text is good)
|Morning of Max
||Radiant & Direction
Seven of this year's showers
(green text) are favorably absent
most or all of the Moon, and offer the best viewing opportunities.
Note that the best time to view meteor showers is usually between
2am and astronomical dawn. Also, the showers themselves occur
for days before and after their peaks, and can still be worth
The lunar phase calendar (above) was created
with a very cool program called Quick Phase, which generates all
kinds of info on the phases of the moon. If you're interested
in getting it yourself, click here.
*transit - to cross from the eastern
half of the sky to the western half, or vice-versa. When an object
transits in an east-to-west direction, it's at its highest elevation
above the horizon. This is the best time to view any object, because
the higher it is in the sky, the fewer layers of Earth's atmosphere
will interfere with, and distort, the image.
For more info about What's Up this
month, check out Sky
& Telescope's web page.
Lunar Conjunctions of 2013
Jan 21 - Waxing gibbous Moon w/Jupiter
Feb 17 - Waxing half moon w/Jupiter
Mar 17 - Waxing half moon w/Jupiter
Apr 14 - Waxing crescent moon w/Jupiter
Jul 10 - Venus + crescent Moon (dusk)
Jul 17 - Moon + Spica (eve)
Aug 12 - Waxing crescent moon w/Saturn
Aug 9 - Venus + Moon (day)
Aug 31 - Waning crescent moon w/Jupiter (pre-dawn)
Sep 8 - Waxing crescent moon w/Venus (day)
Sep 28 - Waning crescent moon w/Jupiter (pre-dawn)
Oct 7-8 - Waxing crescent moon w/Venus (just after sunset)
Oct 25 - Waning gibbous moon w/Jupiter (pre-dawn)
Nov 6 - Waxing crescent moon w/Venus
Nov 21 - Waning gibbous moon w/Jupiter (late evening)
Dec 5 - Waxing crescent moon w/Venus (just after sunset)
Dec 19 - Waning gibbous moon w/Jupiter
Interesting Misc Conjunctions of 2013
Jun 20 - Venus + Mercury (dusk)
Sep 17 - Venus + Saturn (dusk)
Sky Clock for Chabot Space & Science Center This
handy utility predicts what the skies are likely to be like within
the next two days. It may take a minute to figure out, but after
that, it's quite simple, and very useful.
Direct link for the weekend
viewing prospects at Chabot Observatory (usually posted
around 6pm on Friday and Saturday evening).