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Two Upcoming Sky Events May 9, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Nature.

At the Planetarium last night, we heard about two upcoming sky events:

1. On May 26th, the conjunction of Jupiter, Mercury, and Venus just over the horizon at sunset.  Mercury, which is rarely visible, will be “lit up” by the proximity of Jupiter and Venus.

Here’s a time lapse video of a similar event from February 2012:

2. In November / December, for a period of almost 3 weeks, Comet Ison will be big and bright . . . for a brief time it may appear brighter than the full Moon causing it to be visible during the day!

Attribution: ESA/Hubble (Wikipedia ~ Comet)

Footnote on Comet Ison’s Name (from Wikipedia):

The name of the comet is simply C/2012 S1. The addition of “(ISON)” after its name merely identifies the organization where its discovery was made, the Russia-based International Scientific Optical Network. 

If the same organization had discovered a similar, but unrelated comet one day later, that one would have been named “C/2012 S2 (ISON)”.

Media sources, incorrectly interpreting the parenthetical identification as a nickname, have taken to calling the comet by the location of its discovery, which could become confusing with later discoveries made from ISON.

The names of famous short-period comets usually identify the astronomers who discovered them or clearly identified them as a periodic comet, such as Halley’s Comet or Comet Swift–Tuttle.  If that convention were followed, this should be the Comet Nevski–Novichonok or C/2012 S1 (Nevski–Novichonok).

Comet Nevski-Novichonok has a nice ring to it!

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related post:  Star Gazing (Water Witch’s Daughter)