A tale of two comets

Comet of 1680 over Rotterdam

Comet of 1680 over Rotterdam (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Mario Carr

Astronomically speaking, 2013 may not be as exciting as last year, except, we might see two bright comets. One could be bright enough to be even seen during the day.

It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a comet during daylight hours. The last time was back in 1965.

This year, Comet ISON could be one of them, and experts say that its orbit is close to the Great Comet of 1680.

However, don’t get too excited just yet because comets have a way of being unpredictable and disappointing. As comets orbit and move closer to the heat of the sun their icy contents could either fizzle into oblivion or burst into brilliance.

If it puts on a bright show, it could be seen late November.

But wait we still have another comet, Comet PanSTARRS, might reach naked eye brightness in the western evening mid-March sky.

Here are January stargazer events. Most are listed in the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers calendar, which is still on sale.

Planet watching

Mercury appears in the evening sky at the end of the month. Venus is in the eastern morning sky and is slowly dropping into twilight.

Mars is low in the south western evening twilight sky and moves eastward towards the end of the month. Jupiter is a bright object in the evening sky. Saturn can be seen in the dawn sky.

Uranus can be seen in the western evening sky and sets late evening. Neptune is low in the western early evening sky and disappears into twilight by the end of the month.

Jan. 1-5 – The Quadrantids meteor shower is best seen after midnight when it peaks on Jan. 3. Up to 40 per hour can be seen. It’s caused by debris from an extinct comet entering and burning in the atmosphere.

Jan. 2 – Believe, it or not the earth will be closer to the sun, or at perihelion, than at any other time during the year.

Jan. 5 – The last quarter moon is close to Spica in the morning sky.

Jan. 6 – The moon is close and below Saturn in the morning sky.

Jan. 10 – The thin crescent moon is close and above Venus low in the eastern predawn sky.

Jan. 11 – Hamilton Amateur Astronomers meeting 7:30-9:30 p.m., Spectator building, 44 Frid St., Hamilton.. Free admission with door prizes. An optional food bank donation of non-perishable goods will be collected. Special guest speaker: McMaster University Astronomer Dr. Laura Parker.

Jan. 21 – The moon is below and extremely close to Jupiter in the evening sky.

Jan. 26 – The full moon this month is called the Wolf Moon.

For more information, please see the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers web site at http://www.amateurastronomy.org or call (905) 627-4323.

Mario Carr is the club’s director of public education and appears on CHCH-TV to talk about the night sky. He can be reached at mariocarr@cogeco.ca.

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About Mario Carr

Mario Carr has a Physics degree from McMaster University and hosts this blog. He is the director of public education for the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers and has helped to raise the profile of the group. He writes an astronomy column and appears on CHCH-TV to talk about the night sky. Mario is the founder of the Carr Marketing Group in Burlington, Ontario and can help with your marketing, communications, publicity and public relations needs. He can be reached at www.carrmarketinggroup.com or mariocarr@cogeco.ca.
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One Response to A tale of two comets

  1. Pingback: A clash of two galaxies | The sky this month

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