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Urban Observing November 2012 November 7, 2012

Posted by aquillam in Astronomy, MichiganAstro.
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The highlight of the month is certainly the solar eclipse. Unfortunately, North America isn’t in the eclipse path. Fortunatly, we’re living in the internet age, so we still get to see it! Coverage begins at 2:38 EST on Nov 13 . Visit http://sunearthday.nasa.gov for information about this eclipse and ways to view it (note they are doing maintenance and making the transition from the transit of Venus site, and may have intermittent service interruptions.) On the day of the eclipse, head over to  http://www.eclipse2012.org.au/  to watch it live.

When there is a solar eclipse, there is of course usually a lunar eclipse. Unfortunalty, we’re out of luck for this one too. First, it’s only a penumbral eclipse, so really not much to see. Chances are, if someone didn’t tell you, you wouln’t know it was going on. Second, the timing is such that it starts right around sunrise for most of north america. Still want to check it out? Visit http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/OH/OH2012.html#LE2012Nov28N to see if you’ll be able to see the Moon during the eclipse.

Those who know your lunar cycle know that this means the Moon is new on Nov. 13, so we start off the month with a waning moon. 3rd quarter is on the 6th, so if you’ve got any time this month for a trip to a dark skies site, the first full week would be that time!

The best time to view the Moon will be the week before thanksgiving, when it’s a nice waxing Moon in the evening. If you have a really clear western horizon, you might catch a very young moon around sunset on the 14th.  Use binoculars as it will be faint.

On the 15th, use the Moon to help you find Mars in the twilight. It’s just 7 degrees away to the south.

The best views of Mare Crisium should be on November 16, when the terminator should brush the western edge of this round dark landmark. Binoculars should be enough to show off the change from smooth Mare to rough highlands.

Tycho is a great excuse to get you out of spending all evening at the mall on Nov 23 – it emerges from the terminator that day, and is high in the SE at 6 PM, so you have to be home in time for that, right? The gibbous Moon is bright enough to share this with friends who think you’re nuts going out and wandering around in the dark. Even so, a deep red or dark blue filter will help cut down the glare, and make those rays pop out.

If conjunctions are your thing, November 28 is your day. Jupiter and the Moon are practically on top of each other at 6PM EST. They’ll be really low on the easter horizon at that time however. By 9 PM, they’re well up in the east, seated nicely in the Hyades.

Meteor Shower watchers should head out in the hours before dawn on Nov 18 to catch the Leonids.  This shower is famous for its fireballs, but it’s also a good time of year for fog in SE Michigan.

As for planets, Jupiter is it for evenings. It’s in Taurus this month, so it rises a little after sunset and is out most of the night. If you have a telescope, check Sky and Tel for Galilean moon and moon shadow transits. While you’re pointed there, don’t forget the Pleiades and the Orion Nebula. These two deep sky objects are some of the highest surface brightness objects out there, so they look great even from many cities.

If morning is your time, look for Venus this month.  Venus and the Moon make a close pair on November 11 in the pre-dawn sky.

By mid-month, Saturn starts appearing in the morning. Get out between 6:30 and 7 to catch a glimpse.

Mercury joins the morning line-up at the end of the month, with one of the best views this year in the last few days. Hold out for December though, you won’t want the miss the conjunction of Mercury, Venus and the Moon on December 11!

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