Seeing Stars with James Wooten: November 2012

Mars remains an evening object. It is low in the southwest at dusk.

Jupiter, still high in the west in the morning sky, is also becoming a late evening object. It is not up right at dusk just yet, but it already rises by 8:30 p.m. (and thus before 7:30 next week after DST ends). By the end of the month, it rises by 5:27 p.m., only moments after sundown. Opposition, when Earth is directly between Jupiter and the Sun and Jupiter is up literally all night long, is Dec. 3.

Seeing Stars with James Wooten: November 2012

Venus remains in the east at dawn, continuing a spectacular morning apparition.

Saturn slowly emerges into the morning sky this month.  After the 15th, try looking for it in the east-southeast under brilliant Venus. Venus and Saturn are very close on the mornings of Nov. 26 and 27.

The Summer Triangle now shifts towards the west as the Great Square of Pegasus appears higher, approaching the zenith. When facing the Great Square or especially south and east of that, we face out of the plane of our galaxy, a direction where there are fewer bright stars. That’s why the large expanse of sky rising under Pegasus seems devoid of bright stars. For this reason, ancient Babylonians designated this broad area of sky as the ‘Celestial Sea’, and filled it watery constellations. The only bright star in this whole expanse of our sky is Fomalhaut in the southeast, which marks the mouth of the Southern Fish.  Between the ‘teapot’ of Sagittarius and Jupiter (in Taurus, the Bull), are dim zodiacal constellations including Capricornus, the Sea Goat; Aquarius, the Water Carrier; and Pisces, the Fish. The giant sea monster Cetus rises under Pisces.

Moon Phases in November 2012:
Last Quarter                  November 6, 6:36 pm
New                               November 13, 4:07 pm
1st Quarter                    November 20, 8:32 am
Full                                 November 28, 8:46 am

The New Moon of Nov. 13 actually passes exactly between the Earth and Sun, and thus casts its shadow on the Earth. This causes a total eclipse of the Sun. The path of totality passes nowhere near North America, however.  Rather, it begins in northern Australia and extends out over the Pacific.

That same New Moon also marks the Muslim New Year. Since Muslims begin their months with the first moon they actually see, their new year will actually begin a few days later, when the slender crescent becomes visible at dusk.

Sunday, Nov. 4 is the first Sunday of November. Accordingly, Daylight Saving Time ends on this date at 2:00 a.m.  (Officially, the time goes from 1:59 a.m. back to 1, such that the 1 a.m. hour happens twice.)  Don’t forget to set all clocks back one hour on Saturday night, Nov. 3, and enjoy your extra hour of sleep!

On most clear Saturday nights at the George Observatory, you can hear me do live star tours on the observation deck with a green laser pointer. If you’re there, listen for my announcement.

To enjoy the stars in any weather from the comfort of the HMNS Planetarium, click here for a full schedule.

Would you like email updates on current events in the sky, at the planetarium, and at the George Observatory?  If so, send an email to astroinfo@hmns.org.