Friday, November 4, 2011

November 2011, 11.04.11

It’s November! November is a good month for watching the sky, with cooler temperatures and clearer nights.

A full moon will be on the 11th, and a new moon on the 26th. If you think full moons are nice things, just wait until next month. There will be a complete lunar eclipse in December!

So far as sun spotting goes, expect to see plenty spots through November. There are 5 now, and number 1330 has the potential for launching strong flares. All these sun spots make great targets for those people with solar telescopes. Remember to never, ever look at the sun without the proper protection.

We have another two meteor showers this month! Our first shower is spread over 7 days, because it is actually 2 in 1! From the 5th through the 12th, the north and south Taurids should put on a decent show. Expect about 5 bright yellow meteors per hour. Although few in number, they are lots of fun because they have a tendency to fragment into many tiny pieces. Comet 2P/Encke is the source of both of the dust trails we have to thank for the Taurids.

The Leonids will again dazzle us from the 16th through the 18th. Comet 55/Temple-Tuttle should put out 15 to 20 blue-green meteors per hour, which often leave dust trails across the sky.

This month, we want to focus on Pisces Australis, the southern fish, as our constellation target. PsA will be low on our southern horizon with its bright alpha star, Fomalhaut. A hot, young A3V-class star only 25 light years away, it is one of only four star systems that astronomers have actually photographed a Jupiter-sized planet in orbit around it. They confirmed the planet using infrared cameras and taking pictures every few years to catch its movements. PsA is one of the smaller constellations, so it will be challenging to find. We know you are all up to the task, though!

Last but not least, Venus is moving to our evening “star” once again. Venus will start to become visible just after sunset. Mars is still going up just before sunup and Jupiter is already high in the morning sky by day break.

So, let the night wash over you, and take a long look at all the heavens have to offer. Good luck, and good hunting!