Weekly Stargazing Calendar for 2010-12-13

This week we will witness the Geminid meteor shower. It is considered to be the most spectacular meteor shower with an average of 60 meteors per hour during the peak which will be on the night of December 13 and 14. If you are lucky enough to get very little light pollution you could probably see up to 120 meteors per hour at peak. The shower will radiate from the constellation of Gemini.

GeminidsLast year’s Geminid meteor shower.
Image Credit & Copyright: Wally Pacholka (AstroPics.com)

Although not nearly as spectacular as the meteor shower, the planets are also interesting to observe. So here are their positions for this week:

Mercury and Mars: The two planets will appear very close to each other this week. Unfortunately this meeting will not last for long since Mercury is very close to the Sun and can only be seen at dawn and dusk, which means that it’s position changes quickly. Both planets can be seen very close to the constellation of Sagittarius. Pluto is also nearby (unfortunately you will not be able to see the dwarf planet unless you have a very strong telescope).

Venus: The sister planet has moved away from the Virgo constellation and is getting closer to the constellation of Libra. Just like Mercury, it can only be seen at dawn and dusk.

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.

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:

Dec. 13

Dec. 14

Dec. 15

Dec. 16

Dec. 17

Dec. 18

Dec. 19