Of all weekends to get out the binoculars, this weekend is one of the best. Two comets, the planet mercury, a meteor shower, and a full moon are all on display. This month the moon is called either the beaver moon or the frosty moon. Both refer to the fact that it’s getting colder and the beavers have great thick fur coats. Tomorrow night is the real full moon, but it was gorgeous tonight peeping through the clouds. It sets about 5:30 in the morning which only leaves a little bit of time for meteor and comet gazing.
We have two comets — Lovejoy which can only be seen through binoculars and ISON which has been reported as getting bright enough to be seen with a naked eye. Probably not my old eyes, but if it’s somewhat clear tomorrow morning, I’ll get up at 5 am to watch. Comet ISON might become the show of the century as scientists are predicting it will be getting brighter for the next few weeks. In fact, it might become bright enough to see in the daylight. Note that you can only see the comets in the hour or so before dawn because they are very low on the horizon.
The Leonids are usually a wimpy meteor shower, but in 1966; they produced an awe inspiring thousands of meteors for a 15 minute period. And there have been other years when they have has some dramatic bursts. And as an added attraction, the planet Mercury can be seen at the same time. This is a rare event, it’s usually not far enough away from the sun or high enough above the horizon to be visible. The magazine space.com has a really good description of how to find these objects. Go take a look. Perhaps you might get lucky to see meteors streaking in front of the comets and a planet.
And if your lucky enough to see something, let me know. And if you get any great pictures, I’ll be glad to post them. It looks like we might be unlucky in Vista to have clouds over the next few days.