5 Sky Events This Week: Comet Brightens, Mercury Meets Venus

Posted by K R on

Happy New Year! As a bright comet blazes across the sky, familiar friends from mythology parade for sky-watchers this week, making stately strides among the stars. Gemini's arc. As darkness falls on Monday, January 5, look for the waning gibbous moon in the southeastern sky to form a beautiful celestial arc with the lead stars of the constellations Gemini, the Twins, and Canis Minor, the Little Dog. Moon and Jupiter. Late at night on Wednesday, January 7, check out the bright planet Jupiter parked next to the waning gibbous moon. Comet Lovejoy brightens. Also on Wednesday after nightfall, hunt down comet Lovejoy as it reaches its closest approach to Earth at some 43.5 million miles (70 million kilometers) away. That happens to be about as close as our neighbor Mars ever comes to our planet. For astrophotographers, however, the real photo op will be on Sunday, January 18, when Lovejoy brushes past the famous Pleiades star cluster in the constellation Taurus, the Bull. Long-exposure images should capture the comet's tail sweep right over the Pleiades, 400 light-years distant. Moon and Regulus. By the next evening, Thursday, January 8, the moon will have sunk closer to the eastern horizon into the constellation Leo. Watch as Luna joins 79-light-years-distant star Regulus, the pair again appearing only 5 degrees apart. Venus and Mercury conjunction. On the evening of Saturday, January 10, Venus and Mercury come together in their closest conjunction in the sunset sky. Look for them in the southwestern sky at dusk less than 1 degree apart. All the details via Nat Geo.

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