The 2013 Geminid meteor shower is expected to peak on the night of December 13-14, though the night before (December 12-13) should offer a decent sprinkling of meteors as well. The sky attraction starts at mid-to-late evening and ends at dawn. The meteors tend to be few and far between at early evening, but intensify in number as evening deepens into late night. No matter where you live worldwide, look for these meteors to fall most abundantly in the wee hours after midnight, centered on 2 a.m. local time. Follow the links inside to learn more about the Geminid meteor shower in 2013!
Have you ever been outside on a clear night and had the unexpected pleasure of seeing a shooting star go whizzing by? Ever wanted to try and capture a shooting star – also called a meteor – with your camera? In this post, I’ll tell you the equipment you need, and also the steps you should follow, to capture your very own meteor. Follow the links below to learn more about how to shoot photos of meteors, or shooting stars.
The first day of winter for the Northern Hemisphere comes on December 21, 2013. However, for Canada and the United States, old man winter has decided to arrive closer to the start of meteorological winter (December 1). Some of the coldest Arctic air we have seen in years is pushing to the south. It is bringing temperatures 30 to 50 degrees below average in parts of the north-central United States. Snow and a significant ice event is likely all the way from parts of North Texas into the Great Lakes and Northeast over the next several days. There will be extremes all across the United States for this first week of December. If you like roller coasters, then you will enjoy this crazy ride.
Many are asking: what is that brilliant object shining in the west after sunset now? It’s the beautiful “evening star,” really the planet Venus. It’s the second planet outward from our sun and always the third-brightest object in Earth’s sky, after the sun and moon. Venus is so bright that it sometimes casts a shadow on dark, moonless night. Venus is always bright … but it’s particularly noticeable now because it’s at its brightest on December 6, 2013. It is near what astronomers call its greatest illuminated extent or greatest brilliancy. Follow the links inside to learn more about Venus at its brightest.
Every so often, the International Space Station (ISS) becomes visible in the night sky. To us on Earth, it looks like a bright star moving quickly above the horizon. The ISS is so bright, it can even been seen from the center of a city. Then, just as suddenly as it appeared, it disappears. How do you know when you can see the ISS in your night sky?
NASA has started a Spot the Station program where people from around the world can sign up to receive alerts when the ISS will be visible from your location.
Okay, no Comet ISON. I guess I can accept that. And, before the idea of bright comets causes you to roll your eyes, shrug, or shake your head, consider another comet that has lurked quietly – but visibly – in Earth’s late night and morning skies this past month. It’s Comet Lovejoy, and you can see it with your eye alone, if you have a dark-enough sky. How to do it … inside.
UPDATE NOVEMBER 30, 2013. As Comet ISON pulled away from the sun over these past couple of days, it first brightened and then faded again. It now seems unlikely we will get any good view of Comet ISON in our skies this December. Personally, I still hold some slim hope that the comet will surprise us again.
The final major meteor shower of every year (unless one surprises us!) is always the December Geminid shower, often producing 50 or more meteors per hour. It is a beloved shower, because, as a general rule, it’s either the August Perseids or the December Geminids that give us the most prolific display of the year. In 2012, the Geminids were amazing, and many people good displays on the nights around the shower and counted more than 50 meteors per hour at the peak. In 2013, you will to be aware of the moon to get the most out of the Geminid meteor, although these meteors tend to be bright enough to withstand some moonlight.
Comet ISON is difficult, probably impossible, to view from Earth right now; it is temporarily lost in the sun’s blinding glare. How can you see Comet ISON as it sweeps closest to the sun that binds it in orbit … and may destroy it? Follow the links below to learn how you can experience ISON’s encounter with the sun today, online.
As Comet ISON is approaching the sun this week, it cannot be seen from Earth, but it’s coming into the field of view of a whole fleet of ESA and NASA space-based observatories.