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11 Dazzling Stargazing Events in 2013

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 1

There are a lot of great things you can do with someone you love, however there is nothing more romantic than hanging out in the dark looking at the stars. You do not necessarily need a love one to enjoy the activity of stargazing, though. Stars are a great way to help you realize how vase the universe is and how small of a speck you are within it.

Whether you are looking for a way to charm your sweetheart, taking up stargazing as a hobby, or just want to see something interesting while you are out for a smoke try to catch some of these events. Most of them are yearly, however some of these things appearing in 2013 will not be able to be seen for a long time from now.

panstarrs
Credit: Photo taken by Luis Argerich in February 2013 in Buenos Aries

March 10-24 - Comet PANSTARRS

If you live in the Southern Hemisphere, you have been able to see comet PANSTARRS as bright as the stars in the Big Dipper since the end of February. However, it will become available for viewing with the naked eye in the middle of March. This is when PANSTARRS will pass closest to the sun and thus be at its brightest.

The comet will appear at earliest around March 7th. Look to the west, just above the horizon as soon as the sky darkens. The comet will move higher in the sky throughout March, so don't fret if trees are blocking your view. The comet is said to develop its tail or ice and rock around March 10th, making it easier to spot.

This is a recently discover comet, we have only known about it since June 2011. So we do not yet know when the next time it will approach this close to Earth will be. Comets are also very unpredictable, so it is difficult.

If you are wondering about this comets odd name. PANSTARRS, unlike others that are named after those that discovered them, is named after the telescope that discovered it.

partial lunar eclipse
Credit: Partial Lunar Eclipse from 2008 by Pedro Re

April 25th - Partial Lunar Eclipse

This, unlike many of our other treats, is going to be best viewed in the Middle East. So good news to the natives, travelers, and armed forces over in that area. This mythical looking read moon will only be a partial eclipse, thus making a sliver of the moon look normal while the other bit look dark and orange. Similar to how the inside of an egg looks when you place it near a light bulb.

ring of fire eclipse
Credit: The 2012 ring of fire eclipse by Bullit Marque

May 9th - Annular Eclipse of the Sun

This event is known as "the ring of fire". While a regular eclipse is when the moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, an annular eclipse is when the apparent diameter of the moon appears smaller than the sun. So thus, the sun is darkened except for the edges, making a ring of fire.

This even will only be able to be seen in select countries in the southern hemisphere. Australia, Samoa, Hawaii, and South America will have perfect viewings for this eerie event.

dance of planets
Credit: Dance of Planets over hawaii by Dan McManus

May 24-30 - Dance of the Planets

This event happens yearly, usually around May. Dance of the planets refers to the time where Venus, Mercury, Mars, and Jupiter can all be visible in one little spot by the moon. However, stargazing looking forward to this even should be weary. The moon phases during these dates will be a full moon, making it much more difficult to spot these planets since they appear so close to the moon.

In 2011, stargazers were blessed with a nice crescent moon, which is one of the best viewing conditions (other than a new moon) to see this phenomenon.

supermoon
Credit: The supermoon from 2011 by Emanuel Lopes

June 23 - Biggest Full Moon of 2013

If you find yourself out and about on the night of June 23rd, don't forget to look up at the sky. The full moon on June 23rd is known as a supermoon. It is the closest and largest full moon of the year. It will also be the moon's closest encounter with the Earth for all of 2013. I reckon it would make for a romantic camping trip in the hills if you have the weather for it.

persieds
Credit: 2012's Perseids meteor shower over Wyoming

August 12 - Perseid Meteor Shower

This well known meteor shower comes bursting out of the Perseus constellation in 2013 starting on July 23 and lasts through August 20th. However the peak of the meteor shower, the best time to catch the most dazzling amounts of rock jet across the sky, is on August 12th. The Zenithal hourly rate this year should be around 80. This means there will be around 80 meteors per hour. However, since a lot of them burn up before we can even see them, do not expect to see that many.

This year the moon will be on the waxing crescent approaching its first quarter. This is a very good time to see the meteor shower since the sky will be fairly dark. Now here's hoping there is no cloud cover!

Penumbral Eclipse of the Moon

October 18th - Penumbral Eclipse of the Moon

This moon eclipse will be visible to most of the United States, Canada and South America shortly after moon rise on October 18th. It will be available to parts of Africa, Ireland, Wales, and other bits of far Western Europe shortly before the moon sets.

Sadly, this event is not as spectacular as the one that will previously happen in April over the Middle East. The moon merely gets darker.

ison
Credit: Predicted path of ISON

November 15th through December - Comet ISON

This comet, like PANSTARRS, is a new discovery. Even newer a discovery than PANSTARRS itself. The comet ISON was discovered in September of 2012. In November it makes it's closest pass to the sun and is believed to become a comet to rival the brightness of famed Haley's Comet.

ISON is being referred to as a 'sungrazer' because of how extremely close it is passing to the life giving star. Because of the fickle orbit of comets, there is not yet any particular direction in which to look for this comet yet. Though Astronomers suspect it will be visible to the East.

If you are wondering about the name, it is named after the Russian organization that spotted it. The International Scientific Optical Network (ISON).

dazzling venus
Credit: Dazzling Venus over California by David Smoyer

All of December - Dazzling Venus

Venus, the brightest of all the planets, puts on a holiday show all month long, and what a spectacular one it is! Venus is the showiest it will be for all of 2013 and 2014 either in the evening or morning sky. It adorns the southwestern evening sky as much as three hours after sundown at the beginning of the month, and 1.5 hours after sundown by New Year's Eve. A lovely, crescent moon passes well above and to the right of the planet on Dec. 5, and the next night Venus will reach the pinnacle of its brilliance; Venus won’t be as bright an "evening star" again until 2021.

Geminid Meteor Shower
Credit: Geminid Meteor Shower on December 14, 2012 shortly after Hurricane Sandy in New jersey by Jack Fusco

December 13-14 - Geminid Meteor Shower

If there is one meteor display guaranteed to put on a very entertaining show, it is the Geminid meteor shower. Most meteor experts now place it at the top of the list, as it surpasses in brilliance and reliability even August's Perseids.

Unfortunately, in 2013, the moon will be several days before full phase and will light up the sky for much of the night, hiding many of the fainter meteors. But around 4:30 a.m. (your local time), the moon will have finally set, leaving the sky completely dark for about an hour. That will be your chance to make as many as two meteor sightings per minute, or 120 per hour!

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Comments

Mar 4, 2013 7:03am
Marlando
Great topic, great coverage and great photographs. 2 BIG stars and a rating from me.
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