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Astronomy: what not to miss in the sky in 2023

Here are the main events to admire in the evening or in the middle of the night in 2023. The year starts strong, because a comet should cause a stir and become visible to the naked eye in the coming days. Look up so you don’t miss any of these celestial spectacles.

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Apart from the multiple currents of dust at the origin of the showers of shooting stars and which the Earth crosses throughout its orbitorbit of 365 days around SoleilSoleilthe year 2023 will be marked by several more or less rare phenomena such as eclipseseclipses and occultationsoccultations for which, in many cases, it will be necessary to travel to appreciate them.

A cometcomet discovery last year should also be talked about in the days to come as it warms up as it approaches the Sun and then the Earth.

An alignment of planets not to be missed in January

Finally, remember that at the start of the year, almost all of the planets visible ineyeeye naked are observable aligned in the sky, on the invisible line of theeclipticecliptic which unfolds between northeast and southwest at sunset. So you can admire in the glow of the duskduskfollowing the chariot of the Sun (in west to east order): Mercury (but it is more and more difficult, because too low and too close to thestarstar solaire) ;VenusVenusstill as magnificent and incandescent (with a magnitudemagnitude of -3.9, it is the brightest planet in the sky); Saturn, higher, in Capricorn (magnitude +0.8);JupiterJupiter (magnitude -2.3), at the meridian, in the PiscesPisces ; and Mars (magnitude -1.1), always blazing and very high in the sky (in Taurus, not far from the PleiadesPleiades). As the Red Planet was closest to Earth in December 2022, it still benefits from very favorable conditions for observation with the naked eye and in an instrument (reflecting telescope, telescopetelescope).

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The main astronomical events of 2023

Here’s everything not to miss in Earth’s skies in 2023, month by month.

January

  • January 3: conjunctionconjunction from Lune gibbeuseLune gibbeuse with Mars the Red. A beautiful occultation of Mars by the Moon is visible exclusively in thesouthern hemispheresouthern hemispherefrom Madagascar, Réunion to the Atlantic coast of the southern half of Africa.
  • January 3: on the night of January 3 to 4, maximum activity of the Quadrantids, a meteor swarmmeteor swarm important. Nevertheless, the LuneLune gibbous will interfere with observation.
  • January 4 at 5:17 p.m.: it’s the perihelionperihelionthe day the Earth is closest to the Sun (147,098,924.7 kilometers in 2023).
  • January 12:comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF), discovered last year, reaches its shortest distance from the Sun, 1.11 UAUA. Very active, it should become visible to the naked eye at the end of January.
  • January 23, at dusk: just above the horizon, between southwest and west, Venus and SaturnSaturn form a sparkling duo under the aegis of the crescent Moon. This beautiful conjunction is to be admired with binoculars or a telescope. The Moon sports at the beginning of the cycle, a splendid earthshineearthshine.
  • January 25: the Moon shines between Jupiter and NeptuneNeptune (but the latter is not visible to the naked eye).
  • January 30: new occultation of Mars by the Moon. The event will only be visible from Central America and the Caribbean (southern United States toisthmusisthmus de Panama).

February

  • 1is february :comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) reaches the point of its orbit closest to Earth (0.28 AU). Her brightnessbrightness should peak at this time: will it be the comet of the year?

Mars

  • 1is March, at dusk: above the western horizon, Venus visits Jupiter this time. A beautiful meeting of the two brightest planets in the terrestrial sky to be observed without moderation in a pair of binoculars or a telescope.
  • March 20 at 9:24 p.m. GMT: spring equinoxspring equinox in L’northern hemispherenorthern hemisphere and equinox of thefallfall in the southern hemisphere. L’winterwinter lasted 88 days 23 h 36 min 13.50 s in the northern hemisphere (source IMCCE).
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Avril

  • 22 avril : the crescent Moon shoots like golden horns, like Taurus in which it shines at this time, above Venus. A comparison to be savored simply with the naked eye, a pair of binoculars or of course, a telescope.
  • 22-23 avril : maximum rain activityshooting Starsshooting Stars of the LyridesLyrides. The Moon sets early enough not to interfere with meteor viewing. Nearly twenty will be visible per hour, on average.

May

  • May 5-6: in the night, watch for the maximum activity of the eta-Aquarides, a meteorite swarm fed by the passages of Halley’s famous comet. However, the near-full Moon will narrow the sighting to the brightest meteors.

June

  • Between 1is June 3: to see at the beginning of the night, Mars crosses theopen clusteropen cluster Messier 44 (M44M44). Will the Red Planet wreak havoc on this swarm of young stars visible to the naked eye (under favorable conditions) dubbed the Beehive or the Crèche (In the manger) at the heart of the constellation du Cancerconstellation du Cancer ? This will of course be impossible, because this beautiful Hive is located more than 600 light yearslight years from Earth, while Mars only… 17 light-minutes away. Nevertheless the spectacle of their meeting will be magnificent to observe in an instrument.
  • June 13: at the beginning of the night, towards the northwest, it is the turn of the dazzling Venus to rub shoulders with the scintillating Hive. In antiquity, Aratos evoked this delicate task perceptible to the naked eye as ” slight hazehaze» or « nuée ».
  • June 21 at 2:57 p.m. GMT:summer solsticesummer solstice in the northern hemisphere and winter solsticewinter solstice in the southern hemisphere. Spring will have lasted 92 days 17 h 33 min 23.24 s in the northern hemisphere (source IMCCE).
  • June 22: our two neighbours, Venus and Mars, meet in the earthly sky above the west. A little higher, the Moon shines delicately draped in its ashen light.
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July

  • July 20, at dusk: a beautiful trio to be seen above the west: Venus, Mars and the still young Moon, with a very thin crescent.

August

  • August 12-13: Watch out for one of the most beautiful meteor showers of the year tonight – the most famous of all – the Perseids. The waning Moon will rise late, which will leave an interesting boulevard for a dark night, without light pollutionlight pollutionwhich favors the observation of a large number of meteors.

September

  • September 23 at 6:50 a.m. UT : autumnal equinox in the northern hemisphere and spring equinox in the southern hemisphere. The summer will be the longest saisonsaison of the year in the northern hemisphere with a durationduration total of 93 days 15 h 52 min 9.81 s (source IMCCE).

October

  • October 20-21: tonight, the Oriondes reach their maximum activity, with about twenty meteors visible per hour on average. The meteor shower is also linked to the passages of the Halley’s cometHalley’s comet.

November

  • November 17-18 : maximum activity of LeonidsLeonids. The growing Moon sets quite early, giving way to a beautiful dark sky for the second part of the night, when the meteors will be more numerous (about fifteen per hour).

December

  • December 13-14: this night occurs the peak of activity of the most beautiful meteoritic swarm of the year, the geminidesgeminides. And, joy! The Moon will be almost absent all night: ideal conditions (provided you are on a site without light pollution) to admire this magnificent meteor shower whose hourly rate can reach 150. The Geminids originate from 3200 Phaeton, a possible wrung-out comet.
  • December 22 at 3:27 UT: winter solstice in the northern hemisphere and summer solstice in the southern hemisphere. The fall will have lasted 89 days 20 h 37 min 22.30 s in total.

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