By Clive Jackson [email protected]
Clive Jackson is an amateur astronomer and an imagineer who does his best to understand the universe. He is also the director of the Astronomical Observatory of Tavira (Sitio do Malhão, Tavira) and the Camera Obscura (next to the Castle in Tavira), specialising in education and public outreach.
Welcome to the November night sky. The nights are now long, dark and much cooler.
Over in the east by 9pm, the constellation of Orion the hunter can be seen rising on its side with the three stars in a straight line marking the belt of Orion.
This constellation is on the Equator of the sky and can be seen from any country in the world at this time. By midnight in November, the red planet Mars will be seen rising in the constellation of Cancer. Mars is not that bright yet but, by the end of the month, it will brighten up noticeably as it moves into the constellation of Leo. On the night of the 9th, the last quarter Moon will be close to Mars.
The giant planet Jupiter is still visible in the early evening sky in the constellation of Capricorn. The four biggest moons of Jupiter are easily visible in any telescope or binoculars.
The night of the 17th is the traditional peak of the Leonid Meteor shower. The chances are good this year for a better than normal show as the Earth will pass through a point in space where in the past, dust left behind by the comet Swift Tuttle has caused many bright “shooting stars” to be visible.
The astronomers hope that the peak will be around 9.45pm local time on the 17th.
By chance the Moon is not in the sky at this time and, as long as it is not cloudy, it might be worth a look. You don’t need any equipment, just a dark sky and a lot of patience.
The Moon was full on the 2nd, last quarter on the 9th, new on the 16th and first quarter on the 24th.
Clive Jackson is the director of the Astronomical Observatory of Tavira (Sitio do Malhão, Tavira), specialising in education and public outreach and the Camera Obscura (next to the Castle in Tavira). Call 281 321 754, Fax: 281 324 688, email: [email protected] or visit www.cdepa.pt