Best astronomy events for 2013

PDF versionPDF version

Here are the most spectacular astronomical events expected for 2013.

Selected are no more than one event per month and additional information is given.


1) January 21: The Moon, Jupiter and Pleiades in conjunction.

From Bulgaria, this is one easily visible night sky event. The Moon will be about 78% illuminated, and it will pass within less than 6 degree from Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system. Close to them will be visible the open cluster Pleiades (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1. The figure represents superposition of the Moon, Jupiter and Pleiades on 21 Jan 2013 (simulated by Starry Night Pro Plus 6).


2) February 9 to 24: Best Evening Elongation of Mercury

Mercury will be at greatest evening elongation (about 8 degree) from the Sun on 16 Feb. Mercury will be visible in the western sky after sunset (Fig. 2). From 9 to 24 February the planet will be bright between -1.0 and +1.4 magnitudes.  On 16 Feb. the magnitude of Mercury will be ~0.0. The greatest morning elongation (about 19.5 degree from the Sun) of Mercury will be   on 18 November, 2013 with magnitude ~ -0.3.

Fig. 2. Mercury position on the western horizon on 17 Feb 2013 (simulated by Starry Night Pro Plus 6).



3) March 10 to April 07: Comet PANSTARRS (C/2011 L4)

Comet PANSTARRS is discovered in June 2011 by the Pan-STARRS (the Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System) at Haleakala, Hawaii. During this time, the comet will be bright similar like the big bear constellation stars. There is possibility to observe it by naked eye on the western horizon after the sunset. For all astronomy photographers the best day will be April 3th when the comet will be very close to the Andromeda galaxy (M31).



4) April 25, partial lunar eclipse

The eclipse is visible from the territory of Bulgaria. This is the first lunar eclipse for 2013 and will be not so impressive. Next lunar eclipses will happen on 25 May and 18 Oct but the Moon falls within the penumbra of the Earth and the eclipses are non-observable by naked eye.

Lunar eclipse on 25 Apr data:

Moon rise: 17:11, Moon set: 03:01 (for Bulgaria)

Magnitude: 0.015

Partial phase begins: 19:59

Time of maximum eclipse: 20:10

Partial phase ends: 20:24


5) May 10 Annular Solar eclipse

These are eclipses in which the visible disk of the Moon is smaller than the Sun. During this eclipse cannot observe the solar corona, but sure this is an incredible natural phenomenon. Eclipse can be seen from the southern hemisphere of the Earth.


May 24 to 30: Planets show

Beautiful dance of Venus, Mercury and Jupiter will provide on the western horizon after sunset. Planets will dance around each other in the sky dance for a week.


6) June 23: Super Moon

On June 23, at 11:34 UT the full moon will happen during its perigee around the Earth. Distance between the Earth and Moon will be 357013 km. More information about the super moon event you can read here:


7) July 3: Venus and M44 in conjunction

About hour after sunset (17:00 UT) Venus will stand on the open cluster M44. The open cluster is known as the Beehive Cluster, also known as Praesepe (Latin for "manger") in the constellation Cancer.


8) August 12/13: The Perseid Meteor Shower

This is one of the most famous meteor showers associated with the comet 109/Swift-Tuttle. The Perseid meteor shower has been observed for about 2000 years. The average speed of meteors in the upper layers of Earth's atmosphere is about 59 km/s. The peak of Perseid meteor shower will be on 13 Aug at 01:00 UT with Zenithal Hourly Rate ~75.


9) September 9: Mars and M44 in conjunction

About hour before sunrise, Mars and M44 will be in conjunction. Astronomical event for a delight of the all fans of astro-photography.


10) November 03: Hybrid Solar eclipse

This second solar eclipse of 2013 is the most interesting eclipse of the year. It is one of the rare hybrid or annular/total eclipses in which some sections of the path are annular while other parts are total. The duality comes about when the vertex of the Moon's umbra shadow pierces Earth's surface at some locations, but falls short of the planet along other sections of the path.Eclipse is visible in the southern hemisphere.

From Southern Bulgaria will be visible like a partial eclipse after 15:40 (LT) for some minutes. The solar disk will be covert less than 1%.

Time of maximum eclipse: 12:46

Eclipse Magnitude = 1.02

Eclipse is total/annular.



11) November 15-25: Comet ISON

On Sep. 21, 2012, it was discovered a comet used a telescope owned by the International Scientific Optical Network: Comet ISON.

Orbital calculations indicate that comet ISON will travel closest to the sun, less than 1.2 million km above the sun's surface, making it a true "sungrazer," on Nov. 28.

The comet could eventually be bright enough to be visible in broad daylight around the time of its nearest approach to the sun. So bright comet seen very rarely, once every few thousand years.

Since comet ISON will become very well placed for viewing in the morning and evening sky from the Northern Hemisphere during the following weeks.



12) December (all month): Brilliant bright light of Venus and Geminids meteor shower

Venus, the brightest of all the planets, puts on a holiday show all month long, and what a spectacular one it is! Venus is the showiest it will be for all of 2013 and 2014 either in the evening or morning sky.

The average speed of Geminid meteors in the upper layers of Earth's atmosphere is about 35 km/s. The peak of Geminids meteor shower will be on 14 Dec with Zenithal Hourly Rate more than 80.


More about 2013: