| Observatory |
Some observing hilights
to look forward to...
The following tips on current and upcoming astronomical events
have been gathered from magazines and other sources by Dave Gamble
with the objective of giving OC RASC members a heads-up on
special personal astro-experiences to look forward to.
Sun. Nov. 1 - The coming week will continue to offer the opportunity to view the faint Zodiacal Light, a delicate glowing triangle of light extending up from the horizon about an hour before sunrise. The phenomenon is caused by the Sun illuminating the disk of dust left over from planet formation in the solar system's equatorial plane.
Mon. Nov. 2 - Tonight the waning gibbous Moon will be just across the brow of Taurus from bright Aldebaran, balancing the ‘V’ of the Hyades open star cluster.
Tues. Nov. 3 - Don't be surprised if you hear reports of an occasional bright fireball this month. If you are lucky enough to see one yourself, it is likely to be a member of the Taurid meteor shower which is active through most of the month. While the Taurids are few and far between, perhaps about a dozen an hour, the comet debris includes pebbles instead of dust grains which produce dramatic fireballs emanating from the vicinity of the Hyades and Pleiades open clusters in Taurus.
Sun. Nov. 8 - This is Last Quarter Moon night with Luna rising after midnight firmly anchored in the reverse question mark asterism of Leo. Time to start making plans for the coming dark moon period for deep sky observing and imaging.
Tues. Nov. 10 - Elusive Mercury will reach greatest western elongation early this morning. Never straying very far from the light of the Sun, catching the innermost planet will mean scanning the southeastern horizon just as the first light of dawn appears. Brilliant Venus will show the way from its position to the upper right.
Thurs. Nov. 12 - There will be an interesting gathering in the east-southeast sky before dawn this morning. The waning crescent Luna will top a vertical totem with bright Venus and Spica forming the figures below it. As the sky begins to brighten they will be joined by the innermost planet Mercury looking on from the lower left.
Thurs. Nov. 12 – Tonight will offer another opportunity to catch ‘the Demon Star’ in one of its blinks. Algol in Perseus, high overhead, will reach its minimum brightness in a two hour time period centered at 9.11pm this evening. Compare its regular brightness with neighbouring stars perhaps around 7.30pm and then check it out between 8.45 to 9.15pm to notice its reduced brightness due to an eclipse underway between the two main components of the three star system.
Fri. Nov. 13 - Our pre-dawn totem has dispersed, however in its place we now have a trapezoidal figure with a very thin crescent Moon poised above Mercury, paired with Venus above Spica to their right, just as the morning sky begins to brighten.
Sun. Nov. 15 – Making the most of the constellation Perseus’ prominent location high in the late fall-early winter sky, the eclipsing variable star Algol will offer another magic show tonight. This time its two hour dimmest stage will be centered at 9pm, offering the chance to compare its brightness with neighbouring stars before 7pm with its much fainter appearance around 9pm.
Sun. Nov. 15 - This is New Moon night, the heart of the dark moon period. If the weatherman cooperates, the field will be clear to ‘go deep’ after faint fuzzies and other deep sky telescope objects.
Mon. Nov. 16 - The annual Leonid meteor shower will peak after midnight tonight. The Leonids are known as being among the fastest meteors, hitting the Earth's atmosphere head on from a radiant point in Leo in the eastern morning sky. The Leonids are not a strong meteor shower with perhaps only around 12 streaks per hour at maximum, however this year the thin crescent Moon will have set in the west and will not be around to compromise them.
Wed. Nov. 18 - If you have a low southern horizon, just after sunset this evening there will be an attractive curved lineup of Saturn, Jupiter and the waxing crescent Moon to complement the changing season.
Sat. Nov. 21 - This is First Quarter Moon night with neatly divided Luna doing a pre-holiday checkout of Okanagan scenes. Always a beautiful naked eye sight, the half lit sphere also invites exploration of the dramatic craters and mountains along the terminator with binoculars or a telescope.
Mon. Nov. 23 - For those interested in a late fall glimpse of the outer ice giant Neptune, tonight it will be able to be found about the width of three fingers above Luna.
Wed. Nov. 25 - Tonight the waxing gibbous Moon will pair up with Mars in the southern sky as our reddish neighbour continues its popular fall performance.
Fri. Nov. 27 - Luna, in waxing gibbous phase, is in the vicinity of light green coloured Uranus tonight. The ice giant will be only the width of two fingers above her.
Sun. Nov. 29 - Beautiful Luna so enjoyed her get together with Aldebaran and the Hyades on the 2nd that she will return to the vicinity tonight, this time just a bit to the right of the ‘V’ of the stunning open star cluster.
Mon. Nov. 30 - As well as being the Full Moon, tonight Luna will skim through the Earth’s outer shadow performing a penumbral lunar eclipse. This year we will have had four of them since our shy neighbour has been dodging the central dark umbral shadow to avoid total lunar eclipses. For this one however Luna will begin to dip into the outer shadow at 11.32pm PST and immerse 83% of herself in the shadow by 1.43am. The event will end at 3.53am. All of this in preparation for the next total lunar eclipse which will take place next May 26.