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Skywatch: Watch for meteors under a dark sky

The Ursid meteor shower peaks as the Moon wanes this week.
Mars has a Date with the Moon

The Moon will meet up with the Red Planet early in the week. Mars will pass close to our satellite on the Sunday morning before sunrise. Look in the southeastern sky. Once you find the Moon, look for Mars just below and left of it.

The Ursid Meteor Shower Peaks

The Ursid meteor shower is set to peak on Sunday night into Monday morning. Caused by debris from Comet 8P/Tuttle, the shower usually produces up to about 10 meteors per hour. Experts are predicting a surge of up to 30 meteors per hour this year, though. As always, you’ll want to find a dark place, far away from city lights to catch the most meteors. Look in the northeast around and after midnight.

The New Moon

One thing that’s nice about this year’s Ursids is the fact that the moon will be dark, so we won’t have a lot of light pollution for it. The New Moon will officially arrive at 12:13 a.m. on Thursday morning.

Courtesy: NASA

Folks on the other side of the world will be treated to something known as an annular eclipse during the early morning hours (Eastern Time) on Thursday. These are also known as “ring of fire” eclipses because the moon is slightly farther from the Earth than when it is during a total solar eclipse. As a result, the sun’s disk isn’t fully blocked, giving viewers the “ring of fire” look. The eclipse will be visible in India, Indonesia and Malaysia with the maximum eclipse taking place at 12:17 a.m. Eastern Time.

Venus & Saturn meet up with the Moon

Venus will meet up with the Moon Saturday evening. The young moon will hang just below Venus in the southwestern sky about an hour after sunset. If you have a clear view of the horizon, look for Saturn, it’ll be below and right of the pair. Happy hunting!