N O V E M B E R S K Y W A T C H
by Maya del Mar
A total lunar eclipse, occurring the early evening of November 8, dominates Novembers sky, a complement to the total lunar eclipse of last May. This one, however, will be a bit less spectacular. It is lighter, because the Moon will be at the edge of Earths shadow. For the same reason, it is shorter, only 25 minutes of totality. And because the Moon is now far from the earth, it will appear smaller.
Nevertheless, a total lunar eclipse is always awesome. East Coast observers get to see the whole event. It begins as the moonlight dims at 5:15 p.m. EST. Then at 6:32 p.m., the edge of earths dark shadow begins to bite into the left side of the Moon, and totality begins at 8:06 p.m. Moon will become a coppery red, probably on the light side.
West Coast observers see the waning eclipse in the east, as the sun is setting in the west. In other words, Full Moon is rising at the same time as it is coming out of the eclipse. Europeans get to see the whole eclipse early in the morning of November 9.
Venus is returning as evening star. She will be bright, but close to the western horizon in the sunset. Each night she will appear higher and higher, until her journeys peak next spring, when she makes her station and turns retrograde. For a special sight, look southwest, just above the horizon, 30 minutes after sunset on November 25. There you can see the delicate new moon crescentwith perhaps earth shadowsitting by Venus. With binoculars, perhaps you can spot Mercury to the lower right of Venus.
This will be the victorious new moon rising from its Total Eclipse of the sun on November 23. That eclipse is visible only in Antarctic regions.
Mars is still brighter than normal, but it fades by a factor of 2 during November. On the evening of November 1, Mars is to the upper left of the first quarter moon.
Mars is picking up speed, and moves through 15 degrees of sky during November, still in Pisces.
Saturn rises about 8 p.m. (local time), and crosses the sky during the night. It is bright now, and can be spotted near the Gemini Twins, Castor and Pollux, two of the navigators bright stars.
Jupiter rises in the early morning, and is the brightest body in the morning sky. It lies beneath the hind legs of Leo, the Lion.
Speaking of Leo, the peak of the Leonid meteor shower occurs during the middle of the nights of November 17 and 18. The first shooting stars will streak across the sky around 11 p.m., when Leo rises. After midnight they may increase to 20-30 meteors/hour.
Keeping track of the exciting sky happenings can add untold richness to our stories of the planets effects here on earth. One has a deep sense of our universal connectedness.