Photo of the Week. This isn't Comet ISON either, but
Comet Hale-Bopp of 1997 with its white dust and blue ion tails.
Central Perseus is above the comet.
Algol (Beta Persei) is just up and
to the left of the comet's head, while the Double Cluster is about halfway
to from the center to te right hand edge. See full resolution.
Astronomy news for the week starting Friday, November 15, 2013.
Our week starts off with the Moon in a fat waxing gibbous phase just short of full, which is passed during the day on
Saturday, November 17. Rising near sundown, setting near sunup,
the "Frosty Moon," the "Beaver Moon," is actually seen Saturday
night slightly past the phase more or less between the Pleiades and Hyades of Taurus, which it will nearly blot out with its silvery
brightness. The remainder of the week finds our companion in the
waning gibbous phase, in which it will
fade until third quarter is reached next
week on Monday the 25th.
The night of Thursday the 21st, the Moon will make a fine passage
five degrees south of Jupiter (about
the span between the front bowl stars of the Big Dipper), both bodies appearing just to the south
of Castor and Pollux in Gemini, all coming up roughly around 8 PM. The pairing
provides a good opportunity to see the Moon's
motion to the east against the background of the far more
distant planet and stars. At about the same time, the Moon will be
passing apogee, where it
is farthest from the Earth, just over five percent more distant
Earlier in the evening, it's hard to miss Venus, which
shines brightly in the southwest in twilight and for well over an
hour after the sky is fully dark. The planet is now setting around
7:30 PM, as late as it will be during this round of visibility, and
a bit over half an hour before Jupiter lofts itself up in the
northeast. By the time Jupiter crosses the meridian to the south (around 3:30 AM),
just after 1 AM south of Leo, is
well up in the southeast. Then you might catch Mercury.
Reaching its greatest western elongation relative to the Sun on Sunday
the 17th, the little planet is making one its best appearances of
the year. Look to the east-southeast in early twilight.
At the same time, you might spot Comet ISON.
While rising later each morning, it is brightening as it approaches
its rendezvous with the Sun on November 28. If you can't see it,
try binoculars. While rising later each morning, it is brightening
as it approaches its rendezvous with the Sun. The family of comets
is the source of most of our meteors when their debris hits the
atmosphere of Earth. November is host to one of the most famed of
showers, the Leonids, which
peaks the morning of Sunday the 17th. But don't expect much as we
are well past the maximum of the shower, which appears every 33
years when comet Tempel-Tuttle is
close to the Sun. Besides, the bright Moon will wipe out most of
the 20 or so an hour that would appear in a dark sky.
The bright Moon also washes away the stars. Nevertheless, in mid
evening look for Cygnus descending
in the northwest and Pegasus
with its Great Square high
to the south. Far down, Fomalhaut of Pisces Austrinus, the Southern Fish, crosses the
southern sky. By early morning you can then admire Orion with its retinue of bright