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Eagleseye Astronomy Blog.
If predictions are right 2013 could bring us two extremely bright comets.
One in March to April 2013 and one from November 2013 into early 2014.
More news here.
Comet 168P/Hergenrother is now starting to fade to about 12th magnitude in Andromeda this month.
Some observers appear to have detected a piece of the comet breaking off.
The comet passes close to The Andromeda Galaxy for a few days either side of the 20th of December.
Any questions, comments or have I made a mistake?
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Sky condition prediction for Higham Ferrers.
ALL TIMES Universal Time (UT) Unless stated.
The Stars (22:00h on the 1st, 21:00h on the 15th and 20:00h on the 31st of the month).
High overhead at this time of night Perseus and Capella in Auriga dominates. Visible in binoculars close to the open star cluster M38 is the “Smiley Face” asterism. Can you spot it? South of Auriga are Taurus and Orion. Wonderful winter constellations containing many bright stars and deep-sky objects lying right on the plane of the Milky Way. Lepus, the hare crouches beneath Orion’s feet. Towards the north the head of Draco is reaching its lowest point and the little bear, Ursa Major is hanging from the Pole Star by its tail. In the western sky Cygnus and Lyra are disappearing rapidly. Over in the eastern sky Cancer is now fairly high up with the lovely open cluster M44, the Beehive Cluster, a great view in binoculars. Leo is now rising bringing with it all the galaxies of Spring.
This bright naked eye variable star is visible from the UK dimming from its usual 2.1 magnitude to 3.4 at the following times:
9th 05.29h, 12th 02.18h, 14th 23.07h, 17th 19.56h.
The Moon and its phases this month.
Moon phase calendar above generated using Graphdark By Richard Fleet.
Click here to download.
Last Qtr. – 6th.
New – 13th.
First Qtr. – 20th.
Full – 28th.
As an aid to identifying the planets and stars, the Moon will be close to:
Saturn on the 10th.
Venus on the 11th.
Mercury on the 12th.
Mars on the 15th.
Jupiter on the 25th.
Reaches greatest western elongation on the 4th.
It will be visible low in the south eastern sky just before dawn.
On the 11th and 12th Mercury and Venus make a nice trio with a thin crescent Moon.
Very bright in the south eastern sky before dawn.
Moves rapidly towards the Suns glare throughout the month getting lower in the sky.
Big and bright at magnitude -2, located just above the Hyades star cluster in Taurus.
Reaches opposition on the 3rd when it will be at its biggest and brightest..
Keep an eye on the cloud belts for disturbances that have recently been reported.
At magnitude 1.35 and now becoming easier to observe in the early morning sky, rising by 4am mid-month.
The rings are now well open and a wonderful sight through even a small scope.
Uranus & Neptune
Still visible in the evening sky but becoming less favourable as they get lower in altitude after sunset.
Geminid Meteor Shower
These meteors are at maximum on the early morning of the 14th. Rates estimated at about 100 per hour. With the Moon out of the way it could be a really good show.
Ursid Meteor Shower
These meteors reach maximum activity between the 22 and 23rd of the month. Rates estimated at about 10 per hour.
A new solar cycle is now well under way, and the Sun has had a recent flurry of sunspot activity with some nice large spots groups now appearing regularly. There have also been some auroral activity seen as far south as Kent, so keep a look out.
There have also been some large prominences visible from time to time and some quite active flare regions.
So if you have access to a Ha solar scope, take a look.
All graphics for all the events below are in the enlarged PDF file here.
All times UT (BST) Unless otherwise stated.
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