Our Night Sky


Have you seen any of the Taurid Meteors? I was gone for two weeks, and then it snowed when I returned, so I missed the peak. But fortunately, a few fireballs should be visible for a few more weeks. Now that DST is finally over, we can go out early to look for them.
The Leonids are also visible most of this month, and peak on Nov. 17-18. They’re also big and bright, but are a midnight to early morning sky event. They’re not very active this year, and will produce only about 15 per hour during the peak, but still wonderful to observe.
While you’re up in the morning before the sky gets bright, Venus and Jupiter will put on a show. On the 13th they were very close together from our perspective, and have not moved very far apart yet. Venus is to the lower left of Jupiter.
Venus has been rising later in the morning as this month progresses. Now it’s about one hour before the Sun, but by the end of this month it will be too close to the Sun for us to see. After awhile it will be back in the evening sky.
On the other hand, Jupiter will be rising earlier as the month progresses. It passed on the backside of the Sun late on Oct. 26 and is now coming around to be visible. Each day it will get a little brighter as it gets closer to us in its orbit.
Mars is to the upper right of Jupiter, but is currently not very bright. You’ll be able to see it, but it won’t stand out. The star Spica is to the right and halfway between Jupiter and Mars. The thin crescent moon is to the lower left of Venus, and will disappear for a few days since the new moon is on Nov. 18. Great for sky viewing!
In the evening Mercury is starting to become visible as it approaches its greatest elongation from the Sun on Nov. 23. That’s when it will be at its brightest for us to see. This will last for a week, but as always it will remain low on the horizon. Of course, binoculars will always be helpful to find it.
To find it, first locate Saturn, which is low in the southwest sky. Mercury will be at its lower right. The thin crescent moon will be to the right of Saturn on Nov. 20 and slightly above and to the left of Saturn on Nov. 21. The best time to look for Mercury is during twilight.
The fabulous summer Milky Way that we barely saw with all the clouds is gone by early evening, but many winter constellations are beginning to appear. We’ll be able to see more star clusters, galaxies ands nebulae. In the winter we view the dimmer outer arms of the Milky Way, but the sky will be full of amazingly bright stars. Sometimes there are so many that I get overwhelmed. So be prepared to have a great time sky viewing. 

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