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Current Astronomy "Headlines"

Last Quarter November 03

New Moon November 11

First Quarter November 18

Full Moon November 25

Listed below are notable astronomical events coming up for the month of
November 2015:

Naked-Eye Planets

Mercury begins November rising before the Sun in the morning in the constellation Virgo, about 7 degrees east of Spica, but Mercury is sadly lost in the glare of the Sun for the entirety of the month. Mercury comes to superior conjunction on the morning of the 17th, and then is technically part of our evening sky. However, even in the evening, Mercury just doesn’t gain enough separation from the Sun to be seen with the naked eye.

At the start of November, Venus rises at a little before 3:00 a.m. in extreme SE Leo, in a close conjunction with Mars. Venus soon crosses into the constellation Virgo, and then on the morning of the 7th, Venus, Mars, and the waning crescent Moon form a small triangle for a splendid morning view! Thereafter, Venus rises slightly later every morning for the rest of the month, finally settling about 5 degrees north of the star Spica of Virgo on the last day of the month.

At the beginning of November, Mars rises just a tad after Venus in very close proximity to it at about 3:00 a.m. in the constellation Leo in the morning sky. Mars presently crosses into the constellation Virgo, then on the morning of the 7th, Mars, the crescent Moon, and Venus make a nice celestial triangle in the sky! On the last day of the month, Mars comes into about a 2-degree conjunction with the star Porrima (Gamm Virginis) of Virgo.

Jupiter rises at slightly before 2:30 a.m. at the beginning of November in the SW portion of the constellation Leo, in a line with the stars Zosma and Chertan (Delta and Theta Leonis, respectively) at this time. The waning crescent Moon bypasses Jupiter at about 3 – 4 degrees away on the morning of the 6th and Jupiter receives no other celestial visitation for the rest of the month, rising at a little before 1 a.m. by month’s end.

Saturn begins November only about 1 – 2 degrees east of the star Acrab (Beta Scorpii) in the head of Scorpius the scorpion. Our last chance to spot Saturn in the early evening sky with the naked eye for this calendar year will be within the first few days of this month – Saturn is VERY low in the WSW after sunset, and descends still more very rapidly toward the solar glare every night. On the evening of the 12th, the young crescent Moon passes perhaps 4 degrees away from Saturn, which might be visible with a very clear sky and flat horizon on the edge of the glare of sunset. Saturn comes into solar conjunction on the evening of the 29th of the month, and will henceforth rise in the morning sky before the Sun for the remainder of the month, and for some time thereafter.

Telescopic Planets

At the beginning of November, Uranus is already above the horizon in the constellation Pisces all month long after sunset. The waxing gibbous Moon bypasses closest on 11/22, and Uranus finishes the month moderately high in the SSE about an hour after sunset, about 3 degrees SW of the dim star Epsilon Piscium. It is possible to observe Uranus through binoculars or telescopes as a pale blue, steadily-shining “star” in binoculars, and a small telescope at moderate-to-high power (about 75x or more) will reveal its disc (magnitude 6.09, and 3.6 arc-seconds on 11/30).

Neptune is moderately high in the SSE an hour after sunset at the beginning of the month in the constellation Aquarius. The waxing First Quarter Moon bypasses closest on the night of 11/19, about 3 degrees north of Neptune. Neptune ends the month right about at meridian roughly an hour after sunset. Neptune appears as a slightly deeper blue-hued “star” in binoculars than Uranus normally does, and also much less bright. A telescope will barely reveal a very small disc (magnitude 7.72, and 2.3 arc-seconds on 11/30) at high power (150x or more).

Dwarf Planets

Ceres is just barely past meridian an hour after sunset at the beginning of November in extreme eastern Sagittarius, pretty far from the Teapot asterism. It might be easier to describe its position by saying that it is just SW of the star Omega Capricorni, at the bottom of the “chevron” shape of the constellation Capricornus. The near-First Quarter Moon makes its closest approach on the night of 11/17, about 13 degrees north of the largest asteroid! However, Ceres moves to within less than a degree of the aforementioned star Omega Capricorni on the night of the 25th! By month’s end, it is moderately low in the SSW at about an hour after sunset, at the extreme southern border of Capricornus, only about 1.5 degrees NE of Omega Capricorni. An observer will be able to view Ceres with a telescope (although a detailed star chart will be necessary to pinpoint its position), although far from glaringly, and even then Ceres’ disc is too small to be seen through any but the largest professional ground-based telescopes. Ceres should appear as a “dot” of a star, much like Pluto, only it will be visible with MUCH more modest viewing equipment! It is actually dimmer than Neptune is on 11/30 at magnitude 8.62.

Pluto is in the constellation Sagittarius about ½ degree NE of the dim star Xi2 Sagittarii / 37 Sagittari for the month of November, and is moderately low in the SSW about an hour after sunset at the beginning of the month. The waxing crescent Moon makes its closest pass (about 3 degrees NW) on the evening of 11/15, and Pluto finishes the month at a tad less than 15 degrees above the SW horizon locally at an hour after sunset. However, seeing it in a backyard telescope is another matter…! The icy dwarf planet is only visible as a very modest, slight “dot” of a star in a telescope of at least 8”-10” aperture. A very detailed star chart (as well as a great amount of patience and endurance!) is vitally necessary in order to spot it! Pluto glows feebly at magnitude 14.24.






Meteor Showers - http://amsmeteors.org/showers.html

Viewable Comets - http://cometography.com/current_comets.html

Special events - http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/highlights



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