The Leonids Peak and the Moon May Get Stung!

   Sunday night November 17th the 21-day old waning gibbous Moon will pass by the open star cluster M-44, aka the Beehive Cluster. M-44 is a group of stars, an Open Star Cluster, approximately 160 light years distant, within the constellation of Cancer the Crab. Actually seeing the stars in M-44 may not be possible due to the difference in the apparent magnitude of the Moon (-12.4) and the Beehive Cluster (3.4).
   Over the hours when the Moon is above the horizon it will pass by the Beehive Cluster. From some locations you may be able to see the Moon eclipse some of the stars.

   The Leonid Meteor Shower reaches its peak at 6 UT November 18th which for the U.S.A. Central Time Zone (UT-6) the peak is at 12:00 am CST, (just after 11:59 pm CST on the 17th). This means that for my location Leo and the meteor radiant rise around midnight. And then after the meteor radiant and the constellation are above the horizon the reflected sunlight from the Moon will brighten the sky making it difficult to see any but the very brightest meteors.

   
   
   

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Mars – Spica Conjunction

   Saturday morning November 9th the planet Mars will be within about 2-3o from the blue-white star Spica in Virgo the Harvest Maiden. Both will easily fit within the field of view of binoculars.

   
   
   

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Venus – Antares Conjunction

   Friday evening November 8th the inner planet Venus will be about 4-5o from the reddish star Antares in Scorpius the Scorpion. Both will easily fit within the field of view of binoculars. Along with Venus there are several planets visible as this graphic shows.

   
   
   

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November Moon at Apogee

   Our Moon reaches apogee, (greatest distance from Earth), for this orbit, on Thursday November 7th. At that time the Moon will be at a distance of 31.75 Earth diameters 251,693 miles (405,060 km) from the Earth.

   On the day of the apogee Moon the 11-day old waning gibbous Moon rises during mid-afternoon and sets later the following morning.

   Does our Moon actually go around the Earth as this graphic shows? From our perspective on the Earth the Moon appears to circle around the Earth. However, in reality, the Moon orbits the Sun together with the Earth*

   *Click here to read my 2006 Scope on the Sky column “The Real Shape of the Moon’s Orbit”. (PDF)

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to go to bobs-spaces.


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Visualize the Ecliptic

Above the Terrestrial Planets this Month

   Once in a while the planets are arranged such that they are spread across the sky. The planets are not lined up in a straight line outward from the Sun but rather are arranged along the ecliptic. The ecliptic is the Earth’s orbital path around the Sun and the respective orbit of each planet is inclined from the ecliptic. And this is one of those times when it is easier to visualize the ecliptic. (see graphics below) Click here to read a previous posting about the ecliptic and planet inclination.

   As the animated graphic is showing the terrestrial planets are not arranged in a straight line. This graphic shows the solar system out to Neptune and from this perspective the planets are obviously not in a straight line.


   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.


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November Moon at Descending Node


   Friday November 1st the Moon will be crossing the plane of the ecliptic moving south. This is known as the descending node, one of two intersections the Moon’s orbital path (dark green line) has with the ecliptic.

   On the day of the node crossing the 5.0-day old waxing crescent Moon will be over the southwestern horizon and will be about 3-4o to the west from the ringed planet Saturn. By Saturday evening, the 2nd, the Moon will have moved to the east of Saturn and will be about 8o from Saturn. Jupiter shines brightly further to the west. However with a more level horizon the two inner planets Mercury and Venus are visible. And with binoculars or telescope the Dwarf Planet Ceres could be seen about 3-4o from Jupiter.


   
   
   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.


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Two Conjunctions this Evening

   Thursday evening October 31st look toward the western horizon but not for trick or treaters. Rather look for the two inner planets to be within about 2-3o from each other, and a bit further eastward for the Moon to be about 4-5o from Jupiter. Also the Dwarf Planet Ceres is within 3-4o from the crescent Moon. However Ceres is at 8th as compared with Jupiter at -2.0 and the crescent Moon at -11.0 apparent magnitudes. And before anyone asks Venus is at -3.9 and Mercury at 0.63 apparent magnitude.
   Each of the pairs will easily fit within the field of view of binoculars.

   
   
   

Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.


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