Astronomy Club of Asheville November 2017 Sky Events

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1 November 2017 Sky Events The Planets this Month page 2 Close Conjunction of Venus and Jupiter page 7 Conjunction of Crescent Moon, Saturn & Mercury page 8 Planet Highlights page 9 Moon Phases page 12 November 6 th - Daylight Savings Time Ends page 13 November 5 th - A Lunar Occutation of Aldebaran page 14 November 17 th Leonid Meteor Shower Peaks page 16

2 November 2017 Sky Events the Planets This month all five bright planets bookend the Sun, necessitating observation either shortly after sunset or before daybreak. Saturn and, by mid-month, Mercury can be found at dusk, while Mars, Venus and, later, Jupiter will dominate eastern dawn skies. Locate Saturn in the southwest to the right (west) of the spout in Sagittarius famous teapot asterism. As Saturn drops progressively lower to the southwestern horizon throughout the month, sharp telescopic views of the ringed planet will come to an end. As dusk allows, make Saturn your beginning evening target during the first two weeks of November crisp views of this satisfying object will not return until early next year. The other bright evening planet is Mercury, albeit making an uninspired, momentary appearance very low in the southwest by mid-month, situated between a rapidly descending Saturn and the horizon.

3 November 2017 Sky Events the Planets While shining brightly at magnitude -0.4, Mercury s proximity to the Sun makes spotting this elusive planet through dusk s twilight difficult. Binoculars and an unobstructed view to the southwestern horizon will improve the task. Two other planets, unseen to the naked eye, grace evening skies Uranus and Neptune. Uranus reached opposition (directly opposite the Earth from the Sun) on October 19 th the planet s closest approach of the year and thus will be visible most of the night in the constellation Pisces. Neptune is also observable before midnight and can be found in the constellation Aquarius. You will need binoculars or a telescope to locate and observe the small distant planetary disks of Uranus and Neptune.

4 November 2017 Sky Events Uranus and Neptune Charts courtesy of Sky & Telescope The motion of the two ice giants, Uranus and Neptune, as they slowly move through Pisces and Aquarius, respectively, in 2017 and beyond.

5 November 2017 Sky Events Uranus and Neptune Uranus and Neptune remain in great viewing positions in November. Use the below charts to find their small, distant blue disks in a telescope this month. Uranus Charts courtesy of Sky & Telescope Neptune

6 November 2017 Sky Events the Planets Turning our attention to morning skies, Mars emerges in the eastsoutheast about 2 and ½ hours before sunrise on November 1 st. Located in the constellation Virgo, the rusty colored planet will appear drawn toward the star Spica as the month progresses. Dim (magnitude +1.7) and distant (215 million miles), Mars remains uninspiring in our skies. By the summer of 2018, however, the orbits of Mars and the Earth align favorably and will provide our best views of the red planet since 2003! Gradually emerging from the Sun s glare following an October 26 th conjunction with the Sun, Jupiter is found rising in the east-southeast by mid-month, about 30 minutes before sunrise. Ascending higher in the skies by month s end, Jupiter trades places with a quickly descending Venus, culminating in a close conjunction on November 13 th. By November 30 th, the gas giant is seen rising 2 ½ hours before sunrise. Venus begins the month shining brightly in dawn skies, but sinks lower to the eastern horizon each morning. By December, Venus will be too close to the Sun to observe.

7 November 2017 Sky Events the Planets Close Conjunction of Venus and Jupiter On the morning of Monday, November 13 th about 6:00 a.m., find the bright planets Venus and Jupiter located low on the eastsoutheast horizon in the constellation Virgo, separated by just ¼ degree! A telescope at medium-power will help distinguish these two planetary disks. On this morning, Venus lies 153 million miles from the Earth, while Jupiter sits some 959 million miles Image created with Stellarium

8 November 2017 Sky Events the Planets Conjunction of the Crescent Moon, Saturn and Mercury in Dusk Skies On the evenings of Sunday, November 19 th through Tuesday the 21 st about 6:00 p.m., the waxing crescent Moon will join Saturn and Mercury in the southwest skies. Binoculars and a low view to the horizon may be necessary to sight these celestial objects through twilight s glow. On these evenings, Mercury is some 101 million miles behind the Moon and Saturn is over 1 billion miles away! Image courtesy of Sky & Telescope

9 November 2017 Planet Highlights Planet Avg. Distance from Earth Constellation(s) Avg. Diameter in arc seconds Avg. Magnitude Comments Page 1 of 3 Mercury 1.1 AUs Venus 1.6 AUs Libra, Scorpius, Ophiuchus & Sagittarius Virgo & Libra Emerges briefly from the Sun s glare in dusk skies Shining brightly low in the E-SE at dawn. Mars 2.3 AUs Virgo Rises two hours before sunrise in the east.

10 November 2017 Planet Highlights Planet Avg. Distance from Earth Constellation(s) Avg. Diameter in arc seconds Avg. Magnitude Comments Page 2 of 3 Jupiter 6.4 AUs Virgo & Libra Find it in E-SE 30 minutes before sunrise. Saturn 10.9 AUs Uranus 19.0 AUs Ophiuchus & Observe in the Sagittarius early evening this month in SW skies. Pisces Visible most of the night.

11 November 2017 Planet Highlights Planet Avg. Distance from Earth Constellation(s) Avg. Diameter in arc seconds Avg. Magnitude Comments Page 3 of 3 Neptune 29.6 AUs Aquarius Observe before midnight.

12 The Moon November 2017 Full Moon** 4 th 1:23 a.m.* Last Quarter 10 th 3:36 p.m. New Moon 18 th 6:42 a.m. First Quarter 26 th 12:03 p.m. ** The Beaver Moon Unless otherwise indicated, all times are EST (*Eastern Daylight Time)

13 November 2017 Sky Events Daylight Savings Time Ends on Sunday - November 5 th at 2:00 a.m. At this time each fall astronomers take delight in moving their clocks back an hour to the more natural time. The artificiality of Daylight Savings Time makes no sense, as no energy, daylight or time is saved by this ridiculous idea! And it needlessly plays with our clocks.

14 November 2017 Sky Events The Gibbous Moon Occults the Star Aldebaran on Sunday, November 5 th. The waning gibbous Moon, just past full and 95% illuminated, will occult (pass in front of) the bright, orange, giant star Aldebaran during the evening hours of November 5 th Sunday. Aldebaran (in the constellation Taurus) is the brightest star that the Moon can pass across; Aldebaran shines at magnitude With a small telescope, watch this bright star disappear from view, behind the illuminated limb of the Moon, about 7:55 p.m. EST. It will reappear on the other side of the Moon, from the thin dark limb, about 8:45 p.m. EST a 50 minute stellar blackout. The above time forecasts are for Asheville, NC

15 November 2017 Sky Events The Gibbous Moon Occults the Star Aldebaran on Sunday, November 5 th. Look low to the east-southeast to observe this event. The Moon will be 95% illuminated and only 8º above the E-SE horizon as the occultation begins. The times below are approximate for Asheville, NC using EST. Aldebaran is 65 light years behind the Moon! Disappearance about 7:55 p.m. Aldebaran 50 minutes later Aldebaran Reappearance about 8:45 p.m.

16 November 2017 Sky Events Leonid Meteor Shower The annual Leonid meteor shower is predicted to peak during the early morning hours of Friday, November 17 th and Saturday, November 18 th. The Leonid meteor shower is caused by the Earth orbiting into the debris trail (comet dust) left by Comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle. In 1966, during a 15-minute period, the Leonids produced a true hailstorm of meteors, with estimates in the thousands per minute! This year frequency is expected to produce up to 15 meteors per hour. Fortunately, a New Moon coincides with the 2017 shower s peak, providing Leonid meteor hunters with dark skies. Try your luck in the hours between midnight and 4:00 a.m. on Friday and Saturday morning.

17 November 2017 Sky Events Leonid Meteor Shower The constellation Leo is rising in the east after midnight on the morning of Nov. 17 th. The Leonid meteors will appear to radiate from this area of the sky hence the shower s name.

18 End

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