Star Map: November 2016

november2016

This star map shows the Houston sky at 8 pm CST on November 1, 6:30 pm CST on November 15, and dusk on November 30.  To use the map, put the direction you are facing at the bottom.

The Summer Triangle is high in the west.  The ‘teapot’ of Sagittarius sets in the southwest.  How long can you follow Saturn as it sets in twilight?  The Great Square of Pegasus is high in the east at dusk. To the south and east, we see a vast dim area of stars known as the ‘Celestial Sea’, where only Fomalhaut stands out. 

Venus is a little higher in the evening sky this month.    Look low in the west southwest in evening twilight.  Venus pulls away from Saturn, having passed it late last month.

Mars is now in the southwest at dusk.  Mars continues to fade each night as Earth leaves it farther and farther behind

Saturn  gradually drops into the Sun’s glare this month.  Visible to the right of Venus on November 1, Saturn sets earlier and earlier each night until it sets in twilight by Thanksgiving.  You’ll need a clear horizon to the west southwest to find it.  How long can you still see it?

Jupiter is much higher in the morning sky this month.  Look in the east southeast at dawn. 

Autumn represents sort of an ‘intermission’ in the sky, with bright summer stars setting at dusk, while bright winter patterns such as Orion won’t rise until later (Orion is up by about 10 now and about 9 mid-month).  The Summer Triangle is in the west.   Meanwhile, the Great Square of Pegasus is almost overhead.  The stars in the southern sky are much dimmer than those overhead and in the west because when you face south at dusk in November, you face out of the Milky Way plane.  The plane of our Galaxy follows a path from the Summer Triangle in the west through Cassiopeia in the north and over to the northeastern horizon.  

Constellations in the November southern sky are almost entirely devoid of bright stars.  They represent beasts and gods related to water, indicating that they are part of the ‘Celestial Sea’.  Examples are Aquarius, the Water Bearer and Pisces, the Fish.  Even Capricornus, the Goat, has a fish tail because he’s originally Ea, Babylonian god of the waters.  Below Aquarius is the one bright star in this area, Fomalhaut, marking the mouth of the Southern Fish.  Ancient Mesopotamians imagined that the Persian Gulf extended upwards into the sky, joining this ‘sea’ of dim stars. 

All of these celestial happenings are on show every Saturday at our George Observatory. Located in Brazos Bend State Park, the seclusion provides a nice dark sky, perfect for viewing stars. Docents and Observatory staff are available to help new star gazers discover amazing extra-terrestrial wonders.

Harry Potter Midnight Madness at HMNS!

This post is from Julia, the HMNS Education department’s resident Harry Potter expert.

Finally! <3
Creative Commons License photo credit: worak

Harry has spent the last 6 years at Hogwarts uncovering the truth of his past and discovering his monumental role in defeating You-Know-Who, and it’s finally come down to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!

Harry, Ron, and Hermione have set out to finish the task Dumbledore started: find and destroy Voldemort’s horcruxes. Without his horcruxes, Voldemort can finally be defeated by The Chosen One, putting an end to the epic battle between good and evil that has plagued the wizarding world for decades.

But it’s no easy task. As Voldemort and his followers gain control of the Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts, Harry, Ron, and Hermione face numerous obstacles from curses and hexes to Death Eaters to the sometimes dwindling faith and doubts they have in one another. However, throughout his journey Harry realizes that he has the full support of the wizarding world and is not alone in his quest to stop the Dark Lord once and for all. Witches and wizards around the world are joining together to stop Voldemort and the Death Eaters in their vengeful plot to take over the entire wizarding world.

So, now it’s our turn to show Harry our support! If you’ve been a dedicated follower of The Boy Who Lived from his first year at Hogwarts you can’t stop now!

Come to the Houston Museum of Natural Science on November 18 at 10:30pm for a Harry Potter Midnight Madness premiere party that will surely give Harry Potter fans something to celebrate! With live animal presentations that would make Hagrid proud (although there are no dragons or hippogriffs), tasty treats that would leave the Weasley boys satisfied, and potions demonstrations that even Snape would approve of, you have to be here! And don’t forget about the costume contest complete with fabulous prizes and Harry Potter trivia for the true HP fan to test their knowledge! It’s all happening right here for the 12:01am screening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. So where should you be for the beginning of the end? Why the Houston Museum of Natural Science of course!

Here are few details for the Costume Contest:

To enter the costume contest you must arrive, in costume, by 10:45pm to register at the table just inside the main entrance to the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Once registered you will receive a number; this is the order in which you will be called before the panel of judges. Each participant will be judged based on the ABC’s of great costumes: Authenticity, Believability and Creativity! Judges will score each participant and we will award the prizes just before the start of the 12:01am movie for each of the winners – Best Adult Male, Best Adult Female, Best Male under 13 years old, Best Female under 13 years old. So dust off your dress robes and we’ll see you at HMNS for the Harry Potter Midnight Madness Costume Contest!