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This Week's Sky at a Glance
5 years ago
Some night sky sights for November 16 – 24
by Alan M. MacRobert
  • Spot the crescent Moon in the west as twilight fades, and use it to guide your way down to little Mars, as shown at right.
  • The Leonid meteor shower should be at its best in the hours before dawn Saturday morning. Under a dark sky you might see a dozen or so Leonids per hour. There is no moonlight.

    Saturday, November 17

  • With a small telescope, watch Jupiter's big moon Ganymede slowly disappear into eclipse by Jupiter's shadow around 11:30 p.m. EST; 8:30 p.m. PST. Find Ganymede just off Jupiter's western side.
  • At roughly the same time, Jupiter's Great Red Spot (actually pale orange-tan) appears nearest to the center of the planet's disk. For a listing of many more Jupiter events this month, good worldwide, see the November Sky & Telescope, pages 53-54.

    Sunday, November 18

  • A low-altitude challenge: If the sky is very clear as twilight fades, aim your scope at tiny little Mars from a site with a low southwestern view. Follow Mars down as night falls. Can you detect the Lagoon Nebula, M8, and its embedded star cluster 1/3° or so to Mars's right?

    Algol Star Map
    Algol (Beta Persei) was the first eclipsing variable star ever discovered. Good comparison stars are Gamma (&gamma Andromedae to Algol's west, magnitude 2.1, and Epsilon (&epsilon Persei to its east, magnitude 2.9. Click for larger view
    Sky & Telescope illustration.
  • Algolin Perseus, the prototype eclipsing binary star, should be in one of its periodic dimmings, magnitude 3.4 instead of its usual 2.1, for a couple hours centered on 10:45 p.m. EST. Algol takes several additional hours to fade and to rebrighten.

    Monday, November 19

  • Fomalhaut, the "Autumn Star," culminates (reaches its highest point due south) around 7 p.m. now, depending on how far east or west you live in your time zone. High above, the western side of the Great Square of Pegasus points almost down to it. The other side of the Great Square points down roughly to Beta Ceti (Diphda or Deneb Kaitos), not quite so far.

    Tuesday, November 20

  • First-quarter Moon (exact at 9:31 a.m.). The Moon shines high in the south in early evening, below the Water Jar of Aquarius.
5 years ago

Wednesday, November 21

  • Algol is at minimum light again, for a couple hours centered on 7:34 p.m. EST. Algol takes several additional hours to rebrighten.

    Thursday, November 22

  • The Moon is under the Great Square of Pegasus as the stars come out.
  • Jupiter's moon Io disappears into eclipse by Jupiter's shadow, barely beyond the planet's western edge, at 11:20 p.m. EST (8:20 p.m. PST). Jupiter's Great Red Spot transits the planet's central meridian around 10:16 p.m. EST.

    Dawn view
    Spot Venus at dawn this week, and keep an eye on much fainter Saturn and Spica moving in its background.
    Friday, November 23
  • Some pre-telescopic astronomy: Sometime between 6:30 and 8:30 this evening, depending on how far east or west you live in your time zone, bright Vega sinking in the northwest and bright Capella climbing in the northeast (well left of brighter Jupiter) will be at exactly the same height. How accurately can you time this event for your location? An astrolabe would help.

    Saturday, November 24

  • Look left of the Moon this evening, by a fist-width at arm's length or a little more, for the two or three brightest stars of Aries.

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