BY CHRIS PAGAN
Sunday, February 03, 2013
2/03/13 at 3:18 AM
Sunday: The moon will not rise until early tomorrow morning, so tonight, look toward the constellation of Perseus for a pair of star clusters very near each other. The two clusters are halfway between the constellations of Perseus Cassiopeia, 4 degrees from Eta Persei, the star at the tip of Perseus' helmet. Without using a telescope or binoculars, this pair of open clusters looks like a hazy patch of light under dark skies. With binoculars, dozens of stars will resolve themselves into points of light.
Monday: In a month's time, a comet will be moving into our sky. This comet is called PANSTARRS and was discovered in June 2011. Comets can be very unpredictable, but the comet appears to be on pace to brighten enough to be visible with the unaided eye. The comet will improve in visibility in March before fading as quickly as it had brightened. Keep an eye out for this comet next month.
Tuesday: At 6 a.m., the crescent moon is 6 degrees from the bright star Antares in the southeast. This red supergiant star would encompass all of the inner planets if it took the place of our sun.
Wednesday: At 6:30 p.m., two planets are visible low in the west-southwest. Mercury is the brighter of the two at 5 degrees above the horizon. One-and-half degrees above Mercury, appearing six times fainter than the nearest planet, is Mars. Since the sky is still bright, binoculars will make viewing the planets easier. Also, over the coming days, Mercury will move closer to Mars, making its closest approach on Friday, when they are less than half a degree apart.
Thursday: The International Space Station makes a high, brief pass through the sky tonight. At 7:33 p.m., the space station is 10 degrees above the southwest horizon. The ISS then climbs to a height of 77 degrees above the northwest horizon before it disappears into Earth's shadow
Friday: Tonight, the International Space Station passes close to several bright stars. It will be 10 degrees above the south-southwest at 6:24 p.m. As the space station reaches its highest point, 51 degrees above the southeast, it is only a few degrees from Bellatrix. Seconds later it passes by Betelgeuse and then heads toward the constellation of Gemini. The ISS moves 3 1/2 degrees below the star Castor in Gemini before disappearing 15 degrees above the east-northeast horizon.
Saturday: The new moon occurs at 1:23 a.m. tomorrow. Though the moon will not be visible, Jupiter's moons will be. The four moons of Jupiter are visible through a telescope on the west side of the planet. At 8 p.m., the moons will be in almost the same positions as they were last Saturday night at this same time.