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Urban Observing November 2014 November 2, 2014

Posted by aquillam in Astronomy, MichiganAstro, Urban Observing.
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Special events

Daylight savings time

Daylight savings time ends November 2. That makes this a great time to be an evening astronomer since it hasn’t gotten bitterly cold yet but the sun sets early enough to get out and observe before getting to bed at a reasonable time.

Meteor Showers

There are several minor meteor showers active as the month opens. The Northern Taurids actually peak on the night of Nov 12 – 13. The Orionids and Southern Taurids both peaked in October, but they continue to produce a few extra meteors each hour. Taurus and Orion transit at around 2 AM for the first half of month so the best time to observe these showers will be between 1 and 3 AM.

The Leonids are active  from November 5th through 30th, with a peak on the morning of the 18th. Although this shower is famous for huge meteor storm outbursts, that is unlikely to happen this year. Instead, a rate of about 15 meteors per hour is expected. The one nice thing about this shower is that even in off years it has a high number of slow-moving meteors with persistent trains, giving observers a better chance of spotting one. Of course, it’s also some of the worst weather of year for most of North America. A waning crescent Moon does little to interfere with the shower this year. Leo rises around 2 AM, so the best times to watch will be between 2 and 6AM.

Position of Leo at 4 AM on Nov. 18

Position of Leo at 4 AM on Nov. 18

Moon

Full on the the 6th

New on Nov. 22

Planets

Mercury makes an excellent morning apparition just in time for the end of daylight savings. Look for it around 6 AM the first week of November. With binoculars and a clear eastern horizon, you might catch a very old Moon next to Mercury on the 21st, half an hour before sunrise.

Looking east  for Mercury at 6:30 AM on Nov. 4.

Looking east for Mercury at 6:30 AM on Nov. 4.

Mercury and the Moon on Nov 21, 7 AM

Mercury and the Moon on Nov 21, 7 AM

Venus is just past conjunction. Look for it to return to the evening skies in December.

Ever earlier sunsets keep Mars in the evening sky this month. It passes through Sagittarius mid-month, no longer rivaling Antaries. Look for it with the crescent Moon on the evening of the 25th.

Looking SSW at 6 PM on Nov. 25.

Looking SSW at 6 PM on Nov. 25.

Jupiter technically joins the realm of the evening planets this month, rising before midnight on the 9th. However, it’s really best observed in the early morning hours.

Jupiter just rising at midnight on Nov. 10.

Jupiter at midnight on Nov. 10.

Saturn hides in the glare of the sun most of the month. Conjunction occurs on the 18th. If you happen to be up early to put that Thanksgiving turkey in the oven, and you have binoculars and a clear east-southeast horizon, you might see if you can spot it.

Saturn on thanksgiving morning.

Saturn on thanksgiving morning.

Uranus sits in the middle of nowhere in Pisces this month. It’s about 4.5º west of the Moon on Nov 4. Much better is the close conjunction with the Moon on December 1 around 6 PM, when they are only separated by about a quoter of a degree.

Neptune sits just west of the 4th magnitude star Sigma Aquarii this month, so it’s still a difficult target for urban observers without a computerized ‘scope.

Deep Sky

Longer evenings mean more time for observing, so you can catch both fall and winter objects before bed.

Catch the globular cluster M13 early in the evening before it sets.

The ring (M57) and dumbbell (M27) nebulae are both visible early in the evening, though its low surface brightness makes M27 hard in urban skies. A nebula filter may help.

The Perseus double cluster (NGC 869 and 884)  is a jewel at this time of year, and if you’re up late enough, you can catch the Pleiades too.

In dark skies, this in the best time of year for observing the one northern hemisphere object you can see naked-eye that isn’t in  our galaxy: M31, the Andromeda galaxy. The core of the galaxy is usually visible to small ‘scopes even in relatively light polluted skies.

Star map shows the locations of  M13, M27, M7, M31, and the Perseus double cluster.

Star map for 9 PM on Nov. 12. Positions would be similar at 8 PM at the end of the month, and 10 PM at the beginning of the month.

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1. Săptămâna 2-9 noiembrie 2014 pe cer | La stele - November 4, 2014

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