Photo of the Week.Polaris, the bright star toward the
bottom, and the faint stars of northern Camelopardalis (the Giraffe), float above the dome of
the four-meter telescope on Kitt Peak, the 2.3-meter
telescope of the Steward Observatory seen in silhouette against the
glorious sky. See full resolution.
Astronomy news for the week starting Friday, November 13, 2009.
Ever have one of those weeks where nothing much seems to happen?
With one quite nice exception (see below), here's one now. It can
of course be a blessing, as you can then concentrate on other
things, such as the serene beauty of the nighttime sky. The Moon starts us off in its morning waning crescent phase, then passes new on
Monday the 16th, whereupon it waxes as an evening crescent. The morning of
Saturday the 14th finds the Moon just down and to the right of Spica in Virgo. It's a good chance to admire box-like Corvus, the Crow, which will lie
well to the right of the star. Your last look at the morning
crescent will be on the morning of Sunday the 15th, whereas your
first glimpse of the evening crescent will be on the night of
Tuesday the 17th. The view gets much better after that with the
Moon higher each night, earthlight on the Moon's
nighttime side on fine display.
Enjoy Jupiter now, to the south in mid-twilight (and
still in northeastern Capricornus), the planet bright enough to be seen in
dusk. It's also among the brightest sources of radio radiation in
the sky, compliments of a huge magnetosphere that traps particles from the solar
wind. Then within an hour of one another, between 10 and 11 PM,
Jupiter sets and both Mars and the star Sirius rise, Mars well to the north
of the star to the east of Cancer's Beehive
cluster. After a goodly wait, Saturn then comes up around 2:30 AM, the rings
tightly closed, which dims the planet some. Venus, however, is leaving us. Not rising until after
5:30 AM, in twilight, the planet is getting increasingly difficult
The one big event is the
Leonid meteor shower, which takes place in and around the
morning of Tuesday the 17th and seems to emanate from the
constellation Leo. Peaking every
33 years, the shower was a big hit a decade ago. The leavings of
Tempel-Tuttle, the shower is more or less back to its normal
small action. There is, however, a possibility of some bursts of
activity, so it may be worth a look in a dark sky.
New Moon of course is special, as it allows you to see -- depending
on where you live -- a dark sky. With the summer constellations -- Lyra, Cygnus, Aquila and
the rest of the
gang -- leaving for the western sky, look high to the south to find
the Great Square of Pegasus, the main portion of the
classic Flying Horse. To the southeast of it, perhaps you can find
the small box of stars that makes Equuleus, the Little Horse, also of ancient origins.