There is a huge snow storm here in Montreal, so I won’t be able to see much today. I hope some of you might be more lucky. This week has no major astronomical events save for the occasional meteor preceding the Geminids meteor shower which will peak next week. The planets are always interesting to observe, so here are their positions for this week:
Mercury: This planet is very close to the Sun and can only be seen at dawn and dusk, which means that it’s position changes quickly. This week it can be seen very close to the constellation of Sagittarius where it forms a triangle with Mars and Pluto (unfortunately you will not be able to see the dwarf planet unless you have a very strong telescope).
Venus: The sister planet can be found at dawn and dusk in the Virgo constellation near Saturn and the bright star Spica. But no star can outshine Venus. It is the brightest celestial body after the Moon in the night sky.
Mars: The red planet can be seen accompanying Mercury and Pluto between the constellations of Scorpius, Ophiuchus and Sagittarius. It has moved away from the bright star Antares over the past weeks and it is now much closer to Ophiuchus.
Jupiter and Uranus: The two gas giants are still visible close to each other between the constellations of Aquarius, Pisces and Cetus. Jupiter can easily be spotted with the naked eye, even in highly illuminated cities. However for Uranus you will need a telescope.
Saturn: The ringed giant can be seen with the naked eye in the middle of the Virgo constellation, not far from the bright star Spica as well as the planet Venus.
Neptune: The blue giant requires a telescope pointed between the constellations of Aquarius and Capricornus in order to be seen.
As you know, the Moon has a big impact on the visibility of celestial bodies in the night sky. So here are the Moon’s phases for this week: