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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)


1. Andra Watkins - May 9, 2013

I love these astronomical events, Nancy. Thanks for putting them on my radar.

nrhatch - May 9, 2013

I jot them down on my calendar to enjoy . . . weather permitting. But the time lapse videos (here and on Suzi’s post) are great to watch in any weather.

The “shooting stars” are especially fun to see as they zoom by.

2. Pix Under the Oaks - May 9, 2013

Thanks Nancy! We love to look up at our country night sky!

nrhatch - May 9, 2013

The last few nights the stars have been brilliant round here. No clouds and great clarity.

3. Pix Under the Oaks - May 9, 2013

Day sky too.. 😀

nrhatch - May 9, 2013

Just remember NOT to look directly at the SUN. It’s too bright. Wear shades. 😎

4. colonialist - May 9, 2013

At least there is a good chance I may see NevNov! Our weather has a personal vendetta against me when it comes to short-term effects. Clouds come out of nowhere just at the crucial time.

nrhatch - May 9, 2013

Clouds do just that! The first thing I asked about the Comet NevNov . . . HOW MANY NIGHTS?

colonialist - May 9, 2013

How many, indeed!

nrhatch - May 9, 2013

BTW: Your name for the comet has my vote! And I shall adopt it henceforth.

colonialist - May 9, 2013

Even I will be able to remember it – and remembering names is NOT one of my things!

nrhatch - May 9, 2013

Comet Nev/Nov is catchy . . . and easily remembered. 😀

5. suzicate - May 9, 2013

You know what we’ll be doing on those days!

nrhatch - May 9, 2013

May 26th, we can schedule some Wine Time at Sunset. Not sure of the timing for Comet NevNov . . . perhaps a MIDNIGHT picnic?

6. spilledinkguy - May 9, 2013

Ooooo… celestial stuff! Sounds like a good show!
Hmm… yeah, that letter/number name is a bit lackluster, isn’t it?
‘Pleased to meet you! I’m C/2012 S1, and this is my friend, C/2012 S2. Yes, we get that all the time, but we are unrelated.’

nrhatch - May 9, 2013

The only two letter number combos that have stuck in my head are R2D2 and C3PO. 😀

7. Don - May 9, 2013

To quote W B Yeats, “Surely, some revelation is at hand.” Lol.

nrhatch - May 9, 2013

To paraphrase the Beatles . . . “you say you want a revelation, well, you know, we all want to change the world.” 😀

Don - May 9, 2013

Now that’s good.

nrhatch - May 9, 2013

John did all the heavy lifting. 😀

8. Tom Merriman - May 9, 2013

I’d forgotten that Jupiter and Venus were returning to dance again… I loved seeing them toward the end of last year (was it toward the end… I forget now!) so thank you for the reminder, Nancy. Looking forward to Comet Ison however!
We in the UK were treated to a very bright meteor last night (part of Halley’s Comet, apparently)… needless to say I missed it. Still, always next time!

nrhatch - May 9, 2013

J & V are planning a menage a trois with Mercury. Ooh la la! 😉

The video above is from the February 2012 conjunction. Not sure if there was another one later in the year. Sorry you missed last night’s meteor. They are fun to watch.

9. diannegray - May 9, 2013

I’m looking forward to these, Nancy! We’re supposed to be having an eclipse here this morning, but it’s cloudy! 😦

nrhatch - May 9, 2013

Sorry the eclipse was eclipsed by the clouds. Clouds often horn in and obscure the excitement.

10. ericjbaker - May 9, 2013

Sorry to our beloved planetary neighbors, but the comet kind of steals the thunder, don’t you think?

nrhatch - May 9, 2013

I agree! I will look for J-V-M Memorial Day weekend . . . but it’s the comet that intrigues me.

11. Three Well Beings - May 10, 2013

i am a devoted sky watcher, Nancy. I don’t always know what it is I’m observing, but I usually do notice when the alignment or configurations of “something very bright” shows up. I’m glad to now know what I can anticipate and be looking for. Thank you!

nrhatch - May 10, 2013

I’m like you . . . I don’t always know what I’m watching, but that doesn’t stop me from relaxing into the night sky.

12. jannatwrites - May 10, 2013

We can see the sky better outside the smog of the city, so I’ll have to keep an eye out for these. Very cool!

Nevski-Novichonok does have a nice ring to it…as long as I’m reading it and not saying it 🙂

nrhatch - May 10, 2013

It really does help to get away from light pollution when we want to align with the heavens above. I think Col’s nickname is great:

Comet Nev-Nov. 😀

13. sufilight - May 10, 2013

Would love to catch a glimpse of NevNov! 😀 Thanks for the heads up and the Youtube.

nrhatch - May 10, 2013

I enjoy having something to hunt for as I scan the night skies. NevNov will be perfect for viewing from Thanksgiving to mid-December.

14. Pocket Perspectives - May 10, 2013

Just added May 26, sunset to the calendar… hope there’s no fog!

nrhatch - May 10, 2013

Yes. Fingers crossed that clouds and/or fog won’t obscure the view.

15. Paula Tohline Calhoun - May 10, 2013

I’m putting those dates in my book right NOW. . . Thanks for the info. BTW, will both events be visible world-wide?

nrhatch - May 10, 2013

The director of the planetarium didn’t say whether viewing would be better in the northern or southern hemisphere. Maybe everyone will have a chance to see the comet.

16. Booksphotographsandartwork - May 10, 2013

Cool video. I hope I catch that when it happens. It would be downright silly of me to use a calendar.

nrhatch - May 11, 2013

Calendars are becoming obsolete . . . “there’s an APP for that.” 😛

17. Perfecting Motherhood - May 13, 2013

Oh, I definitely want to see the comet with my kids!

nrhatch - May 13, 2013

I hope you’ll be able to spot this celestial visitor as it circles about. 😯

18. dearrosie - May 13, 2013

After our trip to the Observer’s Inn last month I knew to look out for Comet Ison at the end of the year, but hadn’t heard about the conjunction of Jupiter, Mercury, and Venus on May 26th.
Wow the video was fascinating and so thrilling to see the shooting stars. Do you know which planet was the brightest?

nrhatch - May 13, 2013

I believe that Venus is the brightest planet, followed by Jupiter. But don’t hold me to that. 😀

19. nrhatch - May 27, 2013

Tonight’s the night! BFF and I just enjoyed a peek at the Planetary Triple of Venus (bottom), Jupiter (left) and Mercury (right) in the night sky just past sunset. We’re going to head out again in a few minutes when the sky is a tad darker.

Pocket Perspectives - May 27, 2013

😀 …hope you can view them again!

nrhatch - May 27, 2013

We’re going to check them out again tomorrow night.

We spotted Venus and Jupiter first . . . Mercury appeared a minute or two later as the sky darkened.

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