Another new year is here, and already there is much talk in astronomy circles about the two bright comets due to grace the sky in 2013.
Comet ISON, due to make an appearance in the night sky this coming autumn, is anticipated to be the comet of the century, perhaps blazing bright enough to be visible in broad daylight.
This comet has the potential to be a once-in-a-lifetime event for many of us, rivalling or even surpassing some of the great comets from the past.
Though not expected to put on as dazzling a display as Comet ISON, Comet PanSTARRS, visible here in the northern hemisphere in March, is anticipated to glow brighter than any comet in the past six years.
For more information, type the names of both of these comets into Google or follow their progress via www.astronomy.com, www.skyandtelescope.com. or www.theheavensabove.com.
Other anticipated celestial events for 2013 include the following: a fine apparition of Mercury in the evening sky of February; a spectacular viewing of Saturn in late April, when, at opposition, it lies closest to earth, and is at its largest and brightest in the sky; the Perseid meteor shower under a moonless sky in mid-August; a brilliant display from Venus in late November and early December.
It promises to be a fine year for watching the night skies.
In the meantime, here’s what lies ahead for January: Mars appears low above the southwest horizon just after sunset all month long. As January opens, Mars drops below the horizon about two hours after the sun and, by month’s end, about 90 minutes afterward. Use binoculars to look for a reddish star low on the horizon.