Skywatch: The week starts with conjunction and ends with a shower

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When the skies clear out this week there will be lots to see in the evenings and overnight hours. Skywatchers will get a treat Monday morning as a planetary conjunction takes place.

The largest planet in the solar system and the brightest planet in our sky will meet up that morning. Jupiter and Venus will nearly be on top of each other as you start your workweek.

Just look low in the eastern sky about 45 minutes before sunrise to catch the pair. They’ll look like very bright stars.

You can use the waning crescent moon to help you find the Red Planet early in the week as well. Mars and the moon will be close to each other on both Tuesday and Wednesday mornings.

Mars has a reddish hue and the image above shows how the two will look on Wednesday morning. Look in the east about an hour-and-a-half before sunrise to find the pair.

Leo the lion will roar this week as well. The Leonid meteor shower peaks Friday night and Saturday morning.

Caused by debris from Comet Tempel-Tuttle this shower helped prove that comets are responsible for yearly meteor showers. That’s because some years this shower is actually a meteor storm with up to 100,000 meteors per hour!

These meteor storms are related to the comet’s 33-year orbital period. This year will see a typical meteor shower, though. The next storm isn’t expected until 2031 or 2032.

10-15 meteors an hour should be visible in the darkest spots and the moon will cooperate with the show, more on that in a minute. To spot the Leonids look for the radiant in the constellation of Leo, it’ll be in the east after midnight.

As mentioned, the moon will cooperate with the Leonids. The New Moon will occur at 6:42 A.M. on Saturday morning which means the meteor shower will peak under a moonless sky with minimal light pollution from our satellite. Happy hunting!