Title: November Skywatch Highlights
Location: Hawaiian Islands
Date / Time: November 2011
Comments: As we bid ALOHA to the giant Scorpion (Scorpius is now setting just after the Sun), Orion the Hunter appears in our evening skies, with his great & small dogs, Canis Major & Canis Minor. Observe some other great Winter constellations in the area, such as: Taurus, the Bull; Gemini, the Twins: Pegasus, the Winged Horse: & Auriga, the Charioteer. Dazzling JUPITER continues to dominate the night sky. Blazing at magnitude minus -2.9, only the Moon & Venus glow brighter. The Gas Giant reached opposition & peak visibility in late October, & continues to provide excellent opportunities for observation. Through a small telescope you might observe features such as Jupiter's dark equatorial belts, colorful cloud bands, & Great Red Spot. Observe Jupiter's 4 bright Galilean moons in their ever-changing configurations. Galileo first saw them nearly 400 years ago with a 1.5-inch telescope of lower quality than any available today. Hard to miss Jupiter, in the eastern sky at dusk, near the border between Aries & Pisces. This month we'll have Jupiter in our sky nearly all night long. Stunning VENUS glows brilliantly in the southwestern sky just after sunset. At magnitude minus -3.9, our sister planet shines far brighter than any other point of light it the sky. MERCURY joins Venus at dusk, & hangs just 2 degrees below (SW) Venus in the first 2 weeks of November. You'll need a clear sky & unobstructed view of the southwestern horizon to see the tiny innermost planet which, at magnitude minus-0.3, pales in comparison to its planetary neighbor. The 2 planets will remain within a few degrees of each other through the first half of November, traveling thru the constellation Scorpius, the Scorpion. (Look for 1st magnitude Antares, the "heart" of the Scorpion, to join the pair on Nov. 9th & 10th). They will appear higher in the SW sky at dusk each night, & will set a little later. Mercury reaches eastern elongation on Nov. 14th (greatest angular distance east of the Sun = 23 deg.); then reverses direction & heads back toward the Sun. Venus continues to climb higher, & becomes more prominent in the 2nd half of the month. On Nov. 26th, a waxing crescent Moon passes 3 deg. from Venus; a lovely photo op! MARS rises in the east around 1:15AM at the start of November, & by 12:30AM at months end. The red planet shines at magnitude 1.0 (as bright as a bright star), & has a pale orange glow. Mars continues to climb higher before dawn throughout the month. It appears among the background stars of southern Leo and, on Nov. 10th, passes 1.4 deg. north of Regulus, the Lion's brightest star, Note the color contrast between ruddy Mars & blue-white Regulus. SATURN returns to our predawn sky this month. Early in the month it rises in the east at 5:30AM & shines at magnitude 0.75, bright enough to pierce the dawn glow. The ringed planet will appear very low in the east-southeast, & you'll have about 30 minutes to spot it before daybreak. By the end of November, Saturn rises at 3:45AM, & stands 30+ deg. above the eastern horizon at daybreak. Look for Saturn just 5 deg. from Spica, Virgo's brightest star. Golden Saturn shines slightly brighter than blue-white Spica. Saturn's spectacular ring system currently tilts 14-degrees to our line of sight from Earth, their largest tilt in more than 4 years. This wide angle affords magnificent telescopic views. For a November Hawaiian sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

Maintained by Roz Reiner - Kauai, Hawaii

 

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