Highlights for the November Night Sky
By Bob Haskins
Do your part and help preserve the dark skies that we are fortunate to have in Waterville Estates.
Turn off all unnecessary outdoor lighting
Go outside tonight and be a stargazer
The Planets: “Evenings on the Ecliptic” The planets follow an imaginary path in the sky called the ecliptic.
Mercury: Is not visible until the third week in November low in the SW at dusk.
Saturn: The only planet that is visible all month in the evening sky. Look for Saturn low in the SW at dusk until it disappears below the horizon three hours later.
Jupiter, Venus & Mars: Visible at dawn in the eastern sky.
Stars and Constellations:
The Fall evening sky is practical empty of bright stars this month; only one of the 25 brightest stars is visible and that is Fomalhaut; it is located low in the south just after dark (refer to Diagram #1). Once you find Fomalhaut project an imaginary line straight up and high in the south you will spot the “Great Square of Pegasus”. Hanging off the NE corner of the square is the dim constellation Andromeda. Look for a long lazy “vee” of stars, which represents her dress. On a clear moonless night you might be lucky enough to spot a small fuzzy spot nearby, this is the Andromeda Galaxy. This is our closest galactic neighbor and one day it will collide with our own Milky Way.
The “Summer Triangle” is still with us and is visible just after sunset; but disappears earlier every evening as winter approaches. Remember, the “Summer Triangle” consists of the first three stars you will see after the sun sets and is almost directly overhead.
Now look north (refer to Diagram #2) and lean your head way back and just above the North Star “Polaris” you will spot the constellation Cassiopeia, the mystical Queen of Ethiopia. Cassiopeia is always located on the opposite side of the North Star as the Big Dipper and this month it will look like the letter “M”. The Dipper is hugging the northern horizon this time of year and because it is so low in the night sky you might even miss it.
Last month we had an update on gravitational waves and this month we have still another. On August 17 two cores of once massive stars collided in a galaxy far,far away. After 130 million years the waves they caused, in the fabic of space, reached us both via our gravitational wave detectors and visually via telescopes. This event has sparked an astronomy revolution. It was the first cosmic event in history to be witnessed via both traditional telescopes and the two gravitational wave detectors located in the United States. This was a truly an historic event and it opens up a whole new era in astronomy. The effort to capture the event’s fleeting signals involved, by one estimate, 15% of the world’s astronomers. This will shift the course of astronomy in several ways, by possibilty providing clues to dark energy and other cosmological mysteries.
Comment / Factoid of the Month:
It wasn’t until the 20th century that scientists realized that there were other galaxies besides our own. In 1923 Edwin Hubble proved that the fuzzy cluster of stars in the Andromeda Constellation was actually another galaxy.In about 4 billion years our galaxy will merge with the Andromeda galaxy. Astronomers now estimate that there are 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe. Most galaxies have a black hole at its center; if you look south this month at the “Teapot”, that is where our black hole is located. Our Milky Way rotates at 250 km/sec and completes a full rotation once every 200 million years. One galactic revolution ago, the dinosaurs ruled the Earth.
Astronomy Websites to explore:
- heavens-above.com (satellites that are passing overhead)
- nasa.gov (sign up for alerts for the International Space Station)
- com (The evening sky map for the month)
- com (The evening sky map for the mont