Podcaster: Rob Webb
Title: Observing With Webb in November 2019
Organization: Physics teacher at Pequea Valley High School
Description: November is turning out to be an AWESOME month for astronomy with lots of events of different types spread throughout. Every naked eye planet is visible, Mercury transits the Sun, 3 close encounter lineups including one on Thanksgiving will happen, and perhaps we’ll be graced with some bonus meteors from the annual Leonid meteor shower.
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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Welcome to Observing With Webb, where a high school astronomy teacher tells you what you’re looking at, why it’s so cool, and what you should check out later this month…at night.
November is turning out to be an AWESOME month for astronomy with lots of events of different types spread throughout. Every naked eye planet is visible, Mercury transits the Sun, 3 close encounter lineups including one on Thanksgiving will happen, and perhaps we’ll be graced with some bonus meteors from the annual Leonid meteor shower.
- Around Sunset – Saturn, Jupiter, Venus (S to SW)
- Throughout the night – None
- Morning – Mars (ESE), Mercury (ESE – last week)
- MIGHT catch it on the 1st when it’s below Venus and sets about an hour after the Sun. Your better bet is to get out around 7am and look ESE, but only during the last week of November. Mercury, Mars, and Spica will line up nicely, adding the Moon on the 23rd and 24th.
- Venus’ turn to come back as the “Evening Star” until May! Just barely visible over the horizon at sunset at the beginning of the month, it will slowly get a little higher each night, so be patient. Find a great view of the SW horizon with nothing in the way and watch the sunset. Venus will be the brightest light off in that direction, only about 10˚ above the horizon.
- Get out after 6am, but before sunrise, and look ESE to find the ruddy red point of light that is Mars. The view keeps improving as Mars rises earlier and is higher each morning, until on the 30th it rises at 5:30am and is 24˚ above the horizon by sunrise.
- LAST CHANCE (for a couple months)! Other than Venus if you’re looking for it, Jupiter will probably be the first point of light you can see, looking SW less than 15˚ above the horizon. It will set in the SW by 8:30pm at the beginning of the month. Throughout the month it’ll set earlier, passing Venus, by 7:00pm at the end of the month.
- Yet again, Saturn will trail behind Jupiter in the sky by about 20˚. It starts off in the SSW about 20˚ above the horizon, and third in brightness to Jupiter and Venus. Throughout each night it’ll set in the SW earlier, at 10pm in the beginning of the month, by 8:30pm at the end.
First Quarter Moon – 4th (Visible until midnight)
Full Moon – 12th (Visible all night)
Last Quarter Moon – 19th (Visible from midnight into the morning)
New Moon – 26th (darkest skies)
1st – 3rd – Close Encounter – Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, Venus, Mercury – You won’t see a great lineup like this very often at all! (Don’t ask me when.) On the 1st, the Moon will be between Saturn and Jupiter, with Venus and Mercury down by the horizon, barely visible in the SW. The next two nights the Moon will move off to the left of everything.
3rd – Daylight Savings Time Ends – It’ll get dark faster at night, and in the mornings, the light will come earlier
11th – Transit of Mercury – Mercury will pass directly in front the Sun, from our perspective, which won’t happen again until 2032! The transit begins at about 7:35am EST, reaches midpoint at 10:19am EST, and ends at 1:04pm EST. How can you see this? DON’T STARE AT THE SUN WITHOUT FILTERS. You’ll at least need eclipse glasses to catch it, but Mercury is very small, so many people are saying you won’t see it without magnification. That means you need to look up white light filters for a camera zoom lens or telescope (Baader makes them) or a way to project the Sun and Mercury onto a sheet of paper using your telescope. A great article covering everything is here: https://www.skyatnightmagazine.com/advice/skills/transit-mercury-11-november-2019-what-how-see/
17th – Leonid Meteor Shower – This annual, weak, meteor shower can have some wonderful years. 2019 does not appear to be one of them, but there still is some hope. You only have until 8pm to get out, since the Moon will be rising at that time. It’d be nice if the Moon wasn’t there, since the radiant would be able to rise and give us a higher number of meteors visible, but getting out there anyway should yield a couple for you.
23rd – 25th – Close Encounter – Moon, Mars, Mercury – Get out after 6:20am on the 23rd, and you’ll find a thin crescent Moon 13˚ above red Mars, which is about 10˚ above dim Mercury. On the 24th, the Moon will be just 3˚ to the left of Mars, making a nice triangle with Mercury. The 25th will be the hardest day to catch this, since the Moon rises at 6:37am, right near sunrise, but with Mercury and Mars above it.
23rd, 24th – Close Encounter – Jupiter & Venus – Get out after sunset by 5pm and find two bright planets about 10˚ above the SW horizon, only about 1˚ apart! Venus will be below Jupiter on both nights.
27th – 30th – Thanksgiving Close Encounter – Moon, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn – A THIRD great lineup for the month! Jupiter is lowest, with Venus just 4˚ to the left, and Saturn 15˚ up and to the left of Venus. The Moon starts VERY thin on the 27th, down and to the right of Jupiter in the SW. The next night, Venus and the Moon are VERY close! Just 1.5˚ apart for Thanksgiving! Then on Friday the Moon moves to be less than 2˚ below Saturn, and then leaving the group on the 30th.
Use a sky map from www.skymaps.com to help you out.
Pegasus & Andromeda -Look pretty much straight up you’ll be able to see the Great Square of Pegasus, with Andromeda curving off of one corner. If your skies are decently dark, you might catch the faint fuzz that is the Andromeda Galaxy.
Andromeda, Perseus, Triangulum, Aries – Find Pegasus off to the West a little bit to find the cornucopia shaped Andromeda again. Keep following the cornucopia shape to find Perseus, which has kind of a similar shape, except opening up toward the southern horizon and the Pleiades. Below Perseus and Andromeda will be Triangulum, a small thin triangle, and Aries the Ram, which looks more like a curved walking cane on its side.
Orion – Look southwest to find the vertical bow-tie that is Orion the Hunter.
End of podcast:
365 Days of Astronomy
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