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5 Sky Events This Week: Moon Swims With Fishes, Meteors Fly, and Jupiter Rises

Hubble Space Telescope took this stunniny portrait of Jupiter, complete with turbulent atmosphere and one of its large moon Ganymede. This week sky-watchers get to look at the gas giant themselves as it rises in the evening skies. Credit: NASA, ESA, and E. Karkoschka (University of Arizona)
Hubble Space Telescope took this stunning portrait of Jupiter, complete with turbulent atmosphere and Ganymede, one of its large moons. This week sky-watchers get to look at the gas giant themselves as it rises in the evening skies. Credit: NASA, ESA, and E. Karkoschka (University of Arizona)

Sky-watchers this week can follow Earth’s lone natural satellite as it glides across the sky and poses with some of the most well known celestial treasures.

Moon and Pisces.  After nightfall on Monday, December 9,  look for the first quarter moon to hang just below the “Circlet,” the most easily recognizable part of the constellation Pisces, or the Fishes. Marking the head of the fish that points westward, this circular pattern of seven faint stars is barely visible with the naked eye from light-polluted city suburbs.

While the nearby moon will make for a convenient guidepost, its glare will require the use of binoculars to help track it down no matter how clear the skies. Look for the Circlet to span about 5 degrees across the sky.

Jupiter Rising.  On Wednesday, December 11, look for the king of all neighboring planets, Jupiter, to rise in the east around local dinner time (6 pm). By midnight it will be riding high in the south and appearing as the brightest star-like object in the sky.  Backyard telescopes can show it off as a large disk with cloud belts, along with a retinue of four large moons.

Geminids Peak.  Look towards the northeast in the late evening on Friday, December 13 for the annual Geminid meteor shower to kick into high gear. The glare from the almost full moon, however, will make the meteors a bit harder to see this year, especially the fainter ones.

Best views will be from the dark countryside,  far away from the city lights.

The Geminids appear to radiate out from their nakesake constellation, Gemini- the twins. Credit: Starr Night Software/ A.Fazekas
The Geminids appear to radiate out from their namesake constellation, Gemini (the twins). Credit: Starr Night Software/ A.Fazekas

Unlike other showers, where a comet is the source for the particles that streak across the sky, in the Geminids’ case it’s an unusual asteroid named Phaethon. The asteroid passes closer to the sun than most, and has an orbit that more closely resembles comets.

What happens is the same, however. Earth plows into this cloud of debris that’s left behind by the parent object and it happens every year like clock work around mid December.

Earth slams into the thickest part of the shower in the hours from late Friday night into early morning Saturday, and this year we’re expecting anywhere from 30 to 60 shooting stars per hour. So that’s lots of wishes you can make.

Moon points to Pleiades. As darkness sets in on Saturday, December 14, seek out the waxing gibbous moon rising in the east. Using binoculars to cut the lunar glare, look for a stunning,  tight group of seven blue-white stars nearby. Known as the Pleiades star cluster, these young stars huddled together in space sit some 400 light years away from Earth, making them one of the closest clusters.

The pair will appear to be separated by no more than 6 degrees, a little more than the width of your fist held at arm’s length.

Moon and Aldebaran.  The following night, on Sunday, December 15, the moon will pose next to 65-light year distant Aldebaran, the red eye of Taurus, the bull.

This dying red giant star appears less than 3 degrees south of the moon.

 

Follow Andrew Fazekas, the Night Sky Guy, on Twitter and Facebook.

Comments

  1. casey in Connecticut
    brookfield ct usa
    January 2, 11:38 am

    we are undisciplined children in our nursery and as we develop and grow create our universe and the more we evolve/learn the faster it expands. so, with any luck we will prevail and not implode on ourselves before we grow up.

    “beam me up Scotty”

  2. KSvenkatraman
    Tamil nadu India
    December 23, 2013, 11:14 am

    Blind copy of a thought less words. NO other Word for this pic

  3. João Queiró
    Portugal
    December 20, 2013, 4:25 am

    The answer to all that questions is very simple, we do not know.
    We are to small, we are to young on this immense universe, to know the definitive answers.
    Gladly, we can continue to explore, to learn, to discuss our theory’s to achieve that definitive answers, as someone said “to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before “. :)

    Peace to all.

  4. tony kelly
    N.Ireland
    December 20, 2013, 12:42 am

    Nah ! Cant agree with ” Babu” It’s his take of “Life” I cant agree with ! Richard Dakins is My Saviour !!!

  5. Patrick Gavin
    Scotland
    December 13, 2013, 9:46 am

    Babu, you can’t just make the sweeping statement that ‘god’s nature doesn’t require a beginning’. Only those who believe a god exists would say that. For everybody else, god requires a beginning just as everything else does.

  6. John in CA
    Redondo Beach, CA
    December 12, 2013, 7:17 pm

    Well stated for most readers –
    “The supernatural cannot be proved by science but science points to a supernatural intelligence and power for the origin and order of the universe. Where did God come from? Obviously, unlike the universe, God’s nature doesn’t require a beginning.”

  7. Aris
    December 10, 2013, 4:25 am

    Babu, you need help.

  8. Rony Mazumder
    NB, Canada
    December 9, 2013, 6:56 pm

    Babu G. Ranganathan> If nothing to something is irrational then why all the religion can not explain from where GOD was created? If your answer is “he was created from nothing and then converted of something”-then same irrationality can eat up your all answer. The problem with you people is you haven’t read too much or study too much but comment on Science procedure despite of lack of knowledge.

  9. Tony
    Wareham Mass.
    December 9, 2013, 4:46 pm

    I believe the universe formed from nothing . The one constant in the universe – change – produced something . In the order of all things if there is hot , there is cold. If there is dark , there is light . So if there is nothing , something has to be formed . By what ? Call it God , call it a force , an energy . I do not believe it is the God created by man , but I do believe in a creator .

  10. shobowale taiwo
    nigeria
    December 9, 2013, 2:41 pm

    You are Right my question is d origin of petroleum is it still science discovery or d Mystery is GOD

  11. Babu G. Ranganathan
    December 9, 2013, 1:19 pm

    SCIENCE SHOWS THAT THE UNIVERSE CANNOT BE ETERNAL because it could not have sustained itself eternally due to the law of entropy (increasing energy decay, even in an open system). Einstein showed that space, matter, and time all are physical and all had a beginning. Space even produces particles because it’s actually something, not nothing. Even time had a beginning! Time is not eternal. Popular atheistic scientist Stephen Hawking admits that the universe came from nothing but he believes that nothing became something by a natural process yet to be discovered. That’s not rational thinking at all, and it also would be making the effect greater than its cause to say that nothing created something. The beginning had to be of supernatural origin because natural laws and processes do not have the ability to bring something into existence from nothing. What about the Higgs boson (the so-called “God Particle”)? The Higgs boson does not create mass from nothing, but rather it converts energy into mass. Einstein showed that all matter is some form of energy.

    The supernatural cannot be proved by science but science points to a supernatural intelligence and power for the origin and order of the universe. Where did God come from? Obviously, unlike the universe, God’s nature doesn’t require a beginning.

    EXPLAINING HOW AN AIRPLANE WORKS doesn’t mean no one made the airplane. Explaining how life or the universe works doesn’t mean there was no Maker behind them. Natural laws may explain how the order in the universe works and operates, but mere undirected natural laws cannot explain the origin of that order. Once you have a complete and living cell then the genetic code and biological machinery exist to direct the formation of more cells, but how could life or the cell have naturally originated when no directing code and mechanisms existed in nature? Read my Internet article: HOW FORENSIC SCIENCE REFUTES ATHEISM.

    WHAT IS SCIENCE? Science simply is knowledge based on observation. No one observed the universe coming by chance or by design, by creation or by evolution. These are positions of faith. The issue is which faith the scientific evidence best supports.

    Visit my newest Internet site: THE SCIENCE SUPPORTING CREATION

    Babu G. Ranganathan*
    (B.A. Bible/Biology)

    Author of popular Internet article, TRADITIONAL DOCTRINE OF HELL EVOLVED FROM GREEK ROOTS

    *I have given successful lectures (with question and answer period afterwards) defending creation before evolutionist science faculty and students at various colleges and universities. I’ve been privileged to be recognized in the 24th edition of Marquis “Who’s Who in The East” for my writings on religion and science.