Skywatch: Look for planets and fireballs this week

Skywatch: Look for planets and fireballs this week
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If you’re feeling a little more rested as we start out the week you’re likely not alone. Daylight Saving Time ended at 2 a.m. Sunday meaning we “fall back” to 1 a.m. and get an extra hour of sleep. That also means our sun is setting an hour earlier so you have that much longer to peer into the night sky and ponder the wonders of the universe. Sunset will now be setting around 5:25 p.m. give or take a few minutes the entire week.

Courtesy: NASA

Mercury will be a little easier to spot this week. The planet reaches what’s known as it’s “greatest eastern elongation” on Tuesday at 10 a.m. This means it’s at its farthest point from the sun … or at least it appears that way from Earth.

The planet sets just after 6 p.m. so if you want to see it you’ll need to look a little after sunset, low in the horizon in the southwestern sky. If you have a good view of the horizon look for Jupiter just below and right of it. Saturn will join the pair well above and left of them as one of the brighter objects in the sky. On Friday night Mercury will be nearly just above Antares, the brightest star in the constellation of Scorpio.

The moon will darken this week to a New Moon on Wednesday at 11:02 a.m. A darker sky will mean good news if you want to try and catch a few meteors.

The North Taurid meteor shower peaks early next week but this weekend will be good one if you want to try and see a few. The shower is active from mid-October to early December. With a New Moon and therefore a dark sky you may catch a few if you’re far enough from the city. This is not a particularly active meteor shower but what makes it special is the fact that it’s active for several hours, meteors are slow-moving and the meteors that do form tend to be what’s known as “fireballs." These exceptionally bright meteors a fun to see. The shower is most active around midnight when Taurus, the constellation that gives the shower its name, is at its highest point in the southeastern sky. Happy hunting!