N O V E M B E R 2 0 0 2 S K Y W A T C H
by Maya del Mar
The big news in November is the Leonid meteor storm. Peak is expected for the U.S. about 5:30 a.m. EST November 19. Hundreds to thousands of "shooting stars" per hour may streak across the sky. The Full Moon will obscure the fainter meteors, but still the storm is expected by astronomers to be dramatic.
The next chance to catch a Leonid storm will be 30 years from now, and it is not expected to be as strong as this years show. So its worth your while to get out of bed, if you must, find clear skies, and check it out. The storms peak will last from about 3:30 a.m. until 7:30 a.m. EST.
The radiant rises in the east shortly after midnight, and lies within the sickle of the constellation of Leo, north of the bright star Regulus, the heart of the lion.
Saturn and Jupiter remain the dominant planets in the night sky. Saturn rises mid-evening with Orion and the Gemini Twins, and shines brightly, a light yellowish beacon. Find the near-full moon on the night of November 21, and Saturn will be close by, to the southeast.
Jupiter rises nearly four hours after Saturn. Not until after midnight can we get a good view. By early morning Jupiter is high, bright, and beautiful. By the end of the month, Jupiter has moved close to Regulus. Early in the morning of November 26, look for Jupiter near the waning Last Quarter moon.
Venus and Mars hang out together in the morning sky around dawn. Venus is brilliant, and Mars is dim. On November 20, Mars is near the big blue star Spica in Virgo, and Venus hangs a bit below. But then Venus turns direct, and starts moving ahead, catching up with Mars. On December 1, Mars and Venus create a close triangle with the early morning crescent moon.