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Look Up! 13 Must-See Stargazing Events in 2013
As 2012 comes to a close, some might wonder what is looming sky-wise for 2013.What celestial events might we look forward to seeing?
I’ve selected what I consider the top 13″skylights” (get it?) for the coming year, and have listed them in chronological order. Not all thesenight sky events will be visible from any one locality (you may have to travel to catch all the eclipses), but you can observe many of them from the comfort of your backyard, weather permitting.
The next year also promises two potentially bright comets: PANSTARRS and ISON. As any astronomer can tell you, comets are notoriously capricious; we can only guess at how bright they will get and how long their respective tails will be. We’ll just have to wait and see.
In general, 2013 promises an action-packed 12 months for stargazers. Hopefully, your local weather will cooperate on most, if not all of these dates. The following list below includes some of the most promising night sky events of the upcoming year! [100 Best Space Photos of 2012]
Jan. 21: Very Close Moon/Jupiter Conjunction
For North Americans, this is a real head-turner, one easily visible even from brightly lit cities. A waxing gibbous moon, 78-percent illuminated, will pass within less than a degree to the south of Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system. (For reference, your closed fist held out at arm’s length covers 10 degrees of the sky.)
These two bright luminaries will make their closest approach high in the evening sky for all to see. What’s even more interesting is that this will be the closest moon-Jupiter conjunction until the year 2026! [Amazing Photos: Jupiter and the Moon]
Feb. 2 to 23: Best Evening View of Mercury
Mercury, the “elusive” innermost planet, will travel far enough from the glare of the sun to be readily visible in the western sky, soon after sunset. On the evening of Feb. 8, Mercury will skim within less than 0.4 degrees of the much-fainter planet, Mars.
Mercury will arrive at its greatest elongation from the sun on Feb.16. It will be quite bright (-1.2 to -0.6 magnitude) before this date and will fade rapidly to +1.2 magnitude thereafter.(Astronomers measure the brightness of sky objects using magnitude, a reverse scale in which lower numbers correspond to brighter objects. Negative magnitudes denote exceptional brightness.)