Monday, November 9, 2009

The Sky This Week - Thursday November 12 to Thursday November 19

The New Moon is Tuesday November 17. Jupiter is is easily seen as the brightest object in the evening sky. In the morning, Mars is easily seen above the eastern horizon. Saturn is close to the dawn horizon and is close to the crescent Moon on the 13th. The variable star Mira is still bright. The Leonid meteor shower is worth watching on the morning of the 18th.

Morning sky looking north-east showing the crescent Moon and Saturn at 5:00 am local daylight saving time (4:00 am non-daylight saving) on Friday November 13. Click to embiggen.

The New Moon is Tuesday November 17.

In the morning, Mars is readily visible in the eastern sky. Red Mars is in the constellation of Cancer and starts the week within binocular range of the Beehive cluster. Mars and the Beehive be readily visible to the unaided eye under dark skies.

Saturn is low in the morning sky this week, but is now readily visible before twilight sets in. On the morning of Friday November 13 the crescent Moon is near Saturn.

Bright white Venus is invisible the twilight glow and will not reappear until February.

Western horizon showing Jupiter at 11:00 pm local daylight saving time (10:00 pm non-daylight saving) on Monday November 16, click to embiggen.

Jupiter is easily seen as the brightest object in the evening sky. Jupiter is big enough to be appreciated in even the smallest telescope. If you don't have a telescope to view Jupiter, why not go to one of your local Astronomical Societies or Planetariums open nights? Jupiter's Moons are readily visible in binoculars or a small telescope.

Mercury is currently not visible.

The north-eastern horizon at 4:00 am AEDST, the Leonid radiant is marked with a cross.

The Leonid meteors may be of interest this year. The Moon is just after new, so there will be no Moonlight interference with this shower, and there are a number of predicted peaks in meteor activity.

The best time to observe in Australia is the morning of the 18th between 3 and 4 am (daylight saving time, 2-3 am non-daylight saving time). Sadly, a number of peaks occur just before Leo rises, and the best (predicted to be around 200 meteors per hour) occurs after sunrise.

Nonetheless, the possibility of seeing a quite reasonable number of meteors is good, and the meteor peak may come early (and people in Western Australia will have the best chances of seeing good meteor activity). There is also a small peak around 2 am on the morning of the 19th that may be worth watching for, despite Leo being low on the horizon. The Radiant (where the meteors appear to come from) is in the Sickle of Leo. Even if there are only a few meteors Orion and the Hyades will be visible and bright Mars will be nearby, not far from the Beehive cluster. So it will be a quite nice morning, and well worth getting up for on the off chance there will be some decent meteor numbers, although the meteor flux estimator says our rates will be rubbish (don't forget to change the date to 2009). Cloud cover predictions can be found at SkippySky.

Left, the eastern horizon at around 10:00 am AEDST showing the location of Mira.

Mira (omicron ceti), a star in the constellation of Cetus the whale, is a long period pulsating red giant and changes brightness from below naked eye visibility to a peak of round magnitude 2 (roughly as bright as beta Crucis in the Southern Cross) in around 330 days. Mira peaked in brightness in November around November 10, and will nw fade slowly over the coming weeks. It may be seen above the eastern horizon around 10 pm local daylight saving time above a loop of stars just above Taurus (see above, Mira is not shown as the plotting software only shows the minimum).

Printable PDF maps of the Eastern sky at 10 pm ADST, Western sky at 10 pm ADST. For further details and more information on what's up in the sky, see Southern Skywatch. Cloud cover predictions can be found at SkippySky.


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