Podcaster: Rob Webb
Organization: Physics teacher at Pequea Valley High School
Description: November brings us earlier nights, all the naked-eye planets visible at some point near dusk or dawn, and a couple of close encounters between them. You might catch some Leonid meteors or a lineup of Venus, Jupiter, and Mars in the mornings.
Bio: Rob Webb is a physics, astronomy, and sustainability teacher at Pequea Valley High School in Pennsylvania. His passions include teaching, astronomy, astrophotography, planetariums, running, reading, and golf. A proud graduate of Dickinson College in 2005, he also obtained a Master’s Degree in Science Education from Penn State University after conducting research in regards to the current state of planetariums in Pennsylvania. Feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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November brings us earlier nights, all the naked-eye planets visible at some point near dusk or dawn, and a couple of close encounters between them. You might catch some Leonid meteors or a lineup of Venus, Jupiter, and Mars in the mornings.
PLANETS…well, the ones visible with your naked eye
Planets you can see around Sunset – Saturn (SW), Mercury (SW, last week)
Planets you can see throughout the night – None
Planets you can see in the Morning – Mars (SE), Venus (SE), Jupiter (SE)
Mercury – You might be able to catch Mercury the last week of November, pretty low in the sky after sunset, and setting only an hour after the Sun. Look SW, find Saturn, then find Mercury down and to the right.
Venus – Venus will be just 10˚ above the horizon at 6am at the beginning of the month, and drops lower every day. It doesn’t drop completely out of sight, but harder and harder to see every morning.
Mars – Dim, but 30˚ high in the sky by 6am, rising around 4am. Look ESE and find the red object above bright Spica, Virgo’s brightest star.
Saturn – Look SW after sunset and find the brightest light only about 10˚ above the horizon. It will set around 7:30pm EST in early November and just after sunset by month’s end.
Jupiter – Makes its transition to morning planet this month. It seems to switch places with Venus, getting higher and higher in the sky every morning until it’s about 20˚ above the SE horizon on November 30th at sunrise.
Full Moon – 4th (Visible all night)
5th – Daylight Savings Time Ends
Last Quarter Moon – 10th (Visible from midnight into the morning)
13th – Close Encounter – Venus, Jupiter – Get out after 6am on the morning of the 13th and look ESE toward the horizon. You’ll find VERY bright Venus about a quarter of a degree away from Jupiter, making this a great time to get both of them in a picture in a telescope, along with all four Galilean Moons. But get out there as close to 6am as possible, as the Sun will rise at about 6:45, ruining your view even by 6:25.
14th – 17th – Close Encounter – Moon, Mars, Jupiter, Venus – An interesting 4 days. Jupiter and Venus are close together low on the ESE horizon in the morning, with Mars over 20˚ up and to the right. The Moon joins in on the 14th, being about 7˚ above Mars. The next morning, the Moon will be down and to the left of Mars, but still far from Jupiter and Venus. The 16th brings the Moon closer to Jupiter and Venus, much thinner, but still above them. Lastly, and most difficult, on the 17th the Moon is incredibly thin, and hanging out to the left of Venus, with Jupiter nearby. You’ll have to get out at 6am or shortly thereafter to witness this, as it is very low on the horizon.
17th – Leonid Meteor Shower – You might just catch a couple meteors coming from Leo, if you get out early in the morning and look at the whole sky in general, like other meteor showers. However, this meteor shower is losing steam throughout the years, but still producing about 15 per hour.
New Moon – 18th (darkest skies)
20th – Close Encounter – Moon, Saturn, Mercury – Look SW after sunset (4:45pm EST) but before 6:15pm EST to see Saturn 3˚ to the left of the thin crescent Moon, with Mercury (if you can spot it) 7˚ below the Moon.
23rd – Thanksgiving – Saturn/Mercury in the SW after sunset, a nice crescent Moon until 8:30pm, Mars, Jupiter, and Venus in the morning.
First Quarter Moon – 26th (Visible until midnight)
28th – Close Encounter – Saturn, Mercury – Look SW after the Sun sets, and you MIGHT be able to catch Saturn and Mercury only 3˚ apart very low on the horizon. Binoculars will certainly help.
CONSTELLATIONS… (see sky map link at the bottom for a Star Map for this month – or ask Mr. Webb) Look straight up and you’ll see…
After Sunset (sunset is around 5:00pm after Nov. 2nd) – Lacerta, Pegasus (the Great Square)
Between Sunset and Midnight – Pegasus, Andromeda – Extra Challenge! Using your naked eye (dark-adapted and in a dark area) or binoculars under normal conditions and a star chart, try finding our neighboring Andromeda Galaxy. It’ll be a faint, but bigger, fuzzy in the constellation Andromeda.
Midnight – Perseus, Taurus
Early Morning – Lynx, Cancer, Gemini – Extra Challenge! Using binoculars, find the bright and open cluster M35. Find Gemini, look at the rightmost leg, go down to the foot, and move 2-3 degrees to the right (W).
GENERAL CONSTELLATION FINDING TIPS:
Summer Constellations: Lyra, Cygnus, Aquila, Delphinus
Look to the West after sunset until about 9pm and you’ll still be able to see Lyra, Cygnus, Aquila, (and Delphinus.) These three constellations have the three brightest stars of the summer constellations (Vega, Deneb, Altair – respectively.) Those bright stars create the summer triangle. Being summer constellations and it being fall right now, they are setting and are visible for a shorter period of time. If you’re under dark skies (away from city lights) you may just catch a glimpse of the Milky Way passing through Cygnus and Aquila.
Fall Constellations: Andromeda, Pegasus
If you can find the Summer Triangle and Delphinus, about 40˚ to the East (leftish) will be the Great Square of the fall constellation Pegasus. Perhaps you’ll even see the two curves of Andromeda off of one side, with the Andromeda Galaxy as a small, faint fuzzy nearby (you’ll need dark skies to see it). A sky map will help you tremendously in finding these. You’ll see these in the East after sunset, straight above you around midnight, and in the West in the morning.
Use a sky map from www.skymaps.com to help you out.
End of podcast:
365 Days of Astronomy
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