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What’s In November’s Night Skies

Planets

Mercury will be visible very low in the Eastern sky during November and is in the Constellation of Libra (The Scales). Mercury will also reach its greatest elongation in the East on the 28th of November at 06:00 pm (AWST) and then it will start heading back towards the sun. Mars can also be found low in the Eastern sky in the Constellation of Virgo (The Virgin) before sunrise.

Venus, the closest thing in our Solar System to hell and also Earth’s twisted sister continues to be easily viewable in the west at sunset. The planet will start of in the Constellation of Libra (The Scales) and then move through Scorpius (The Scorpion) to join up with Jupiter in the Constellation of Ophiuchus (The Serpant Bearer) before both planets move into the Constellation of Sagittarius (The Centaur Chiron). Saturn can be found in November above Venus and Jupiter in the Constellation of Sagittarius (The Centaur Chiron). Also at the end of November, in the early evening of the 29th and 30th of November you’ll be able to see alignment of the Moon, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn in the Western sky.

Uranus will be viewable in the early evening in between the Constellations of Pisces (The Fish), Cetus (The Sea Dragon) and Aries (The Ram). At the start of November, the planet will set at 05:17 am and by the end of the month it’ll set at 03:19 am (AWST). The last planet in the Solar System, Neptune will be viewable in the early evening in the Aquarius (The Water Bearer) Constellation. At the start of November, the planet will set at 03:05 am and by the end of the month it’ll set at 01:11 am (AWST).

Mars and Mercury at its greatest elongation on the 28/11/19 at 04:15 am. Image Credit: Stellarium Venus, Jupiter and Saturn on the 15/11/19 at 08:00 pm. Image Credit: Stellarium
Uranus on the 15/11/19 at 09:00 pm. Image Credit: Stellarium Neptune on the 15/11/19 at 09:00 pm. Image Credit: Stellarium

Conjunctions and Occultation

Conjunctions involve object(s) in the Solar System and/or more distant objects, such as a star. It’s an apparent phenomenon in which multiple objects which aren’t close together appear close in the sky and it’s caused by the observer’s perspective. An occultation is an event that occurs when one object is hidden by another object that passes between it and the observer.

  • 01/11/19 – Alignment of the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn (Where to look)
  • 02/11/19 – Conjunction of the Moon and Saturn (Where to look)
  • 09/11/19 – Conjunction of Mars and Spica (Where to look)
  • 09/11/19 – Conjunction of Venus and Antares (Where to look)
  • 14/11/19 – Conjunction of the Moon and Aldebaran (Where to look)
  • 18/11/19 – Conjunction of the Moon and Pollux (Where to look)
  • 20/11/19 – Conjunction of the Moon and Regulus (Where to look)
  • 24/11/19 – Conjunction of the Moon, Mars and Spica (Where to look)
  • 24/11/19 – Conjunction of Venus and Jupiter (Where to look)
  • 28/11/19 – Conjunction of the Moon, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn (Where to look)
  • 29/11/19 – Alignment of the Moon, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn (Where to look)
  • 30/11/19 – Alignment of the Moon, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn (Where to look)

Astronomical Events This Month:

The Leonids Meteor Shower

The Leonids Meteor Shower will be active around the 6th of November to the 30th of November, and the peak is expected to be on the 18th of November at 00:30 am (AWST) but you’ll have to go out around 2:00 am and 3:00 am (AWST) as the radiant point of the Leonids is in the Leo Constellation and it rises in the early morning. In 2019, the Leonids are expected to produce around 10 meteors per hour and the Moon will be a First Quarter Moon that will set at 02:15 am (AWST), making 2019 a favourable year for the shower.

The Leonid meteors strike the Earth at 71 km/s, and produces many fireballs. The source of the Leonids is Comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle and they’re prone to provide amazing outbursts once every 33 years. We’re now past the midway point from the 1998 – 1999 outburst years and the next predicted ‘Leonid meteor storm’ is set for 2032 – 2033.

The great Leonid Storm of 1833 has been cited as a contributing factor to the religious fundamentalist movements of the 1830s in the United States. Residents of the United States eastern seaboard awoke on the morning on November 13th, 1833 to a stunning sight, as meteors seemed to fill the sky like snowflakes in a winter storm. Churches filled up, as many believed the Judgment Day had dawned.

Leonid Meteor Shower on the 17/11/19 at 04:00 am. Image Credit: Stellarium Leonid Meteor Shower. Image Credit: Jimmy Westlake Comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle’s orbit. Image Credit: SNAPPA
Alpha Monocerotid Meteor Shower

The Alpha Monocerotid Meteor Shower will be active over a 10-day period from the 15th of November to the 25th of November with the expected peak being on the 21st of November at 01:00 am (AWST). The shower can vary in its hourly rate of 10 meteors per hour, with short outbursts briefly topping 400 per hour. In 2019, the Alpha Monocerotids is expected to produce a maximum hourly rate of 5 meteors per hour. The radiant of the Alpha Monocerotids is in the constellation of Monoceros and the Moon will be near Full at the peak of the Alpha Monocerotids, making 2017 a favourable year for this shower.

The Alpha Monocerotid meteors strike the Earth at a moderate-to-fast velocity of 65 km/s, and produce many fireballs. The source of the Alpha Monocerotid meteors is an unknown long period comet and Meteor shower analyst Mikiya Sato notes that weakly enhanced rates for the Alpha Monocerotids may occur starting in 2017 through 2020. In previous years, the Alpha Monocerotids has produced short outbursts numbering in the hundreds per hour, as last occurred in 1995. Another strong outburst from the Alpha Monocerotid meteors rivalling the 1995 storm is expected in 2043.

Alpha Monocerotids Meteor Shower on the 21/11/19 at 01:00 am. Image Credit: Stellarium An Alpha Monocerotids Meteor

Things to Look at This Month:

The Andromeda Galaxy:

The Andromeda Galaxy (M31) is a spiral galaxy approximately 2.5 million light-years from Earth, and the nearest major galaxy to the Milky Way. Its name stems from the area of the sky in which it appears, the constellation of Andromeda. Observations made by the Spitzer Space Telescope in 2006 revealed that the Galaxy contained approximately one trillion stars which is more than twice the number of our Milky Way Galaxy which is estimated to have between 200 to 400 billion stars. The Andromeda Galaxy spans approximately 220 000 light-years and is the largest galaxy in our Local Group.

The Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies will eventually collide in ~4.5 billion years and will merge to form a giant elliptical galaxy or a large disc galaxy.

The Andromeda Galaxy on the 15/11/19 at 21:00pm. Image Credit: Stellarium The Andromeda Galaxy. Image Credit & Copyright: Gábor Tóth
The Sculptor Galaxy:

The Sculptor or the Silver Coin Galaxy (NGC253) is a barred galaxy in the Sculptor constellation roughly 67,000 light years in width. It was discovered by Caroline Herschel in 1783, whilst carrying out a comet search. It is one of the Sculptor group of galaxies, which are grouped around the south galactic pole (These galaxies are sometimes named “The South Polar Group”). The Sculptor group may be the next closest group of galaxies beyond our Local Group, located about 11.5 million light-years from Earth.

Often called a Starburst galaxy because it has a large number of stellar nurseries in which many hot young blue stars are being formed. This is due as a result of a collision with a dwarf galaxy approximately 200 million years ago. The process of star formation and subsequent explosion as supernovae occurs at an unusually high rate of star birth.

These young stars emit radiation that causes the hydrogen gas to glow brightly in pink. NGC253 has many Wolf Rayet stars (WR stars start off as hot massive stars, around x20 solar masses, that rapidly lose mass by blowing their hydrogen envelope away in the form of high-velocity stellar winds.) The Silver Coin Galaxy also has a large proportion of dust, although not in clearly defined lanes, such as those found in the Milky Way Galaxy.

With an apparent magnitude of 7.2, it’s the second easiest galaxy to see after Andromeda and not including the Milky Way’s two satellite galaxies (The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds). With good viewing conditions, it can be seen with binoculars with a long axis ~2/3 of the full moon.

Sculptor Galaxy on the 15/11/19 at 21:00pm. Image Credit: Stellarium Sculptor Galaxy - Image Credit & Copyright: Mike O'Day
Acamar:

Acamar is a double star that is 161 light years away from us located in the Eridanus (The River) Constellation. Acamar is from the Arabic meaning “The end of the river” which is also the meaning for Achernar and relates to the extended constellation of Eridanus, the river. Achernar is not visible in the northern Mediterranean and hence the much more northern but fainter Acamar was given this term. In modern times with the redrawing of constellation boundaries, the Eridanus was extended further south to end at the brighter Achernar which is now ‘the end of the river’.

The double star separation is ~8 arcseconds and an orbital period of 569 days. The primary star is mag +3.2 and the second +4.3. The primary star is ~2.6 times the mass and ~96 times brighter than the sun with a surface temperature of ~8 200 K. The secondary star is ~2.4 times the mass and ~36 times the brightness of the sun with a surface temperature of ~9 200 K.

Acamar on the 15/11/19 at 21:00pm. Image Credit: Stellarium Aamar. Image Credit: Perth Observatory volunteer Geoff Scott
Tarantula Nebula:

The Tarantula Nebula is an Emission Nebula which isn’t even located in our galaxy, but in one of our galaxies satellite galaxies, the Large Magellanic Cloud. The Nebula is some 160,000 light-years away from our Solar System and is 300 light years across. This Nebula is an extremely luminous object, Its luminosity is so great that if it were as close to Earth as the Orion Nebula, the Tarantula Nebula would cast shadows and take up 60% of the horizon. It’s is the most active starburst region known in the Local Group of galaxies, this is because the nebula resides on the leading edge of the Large Magellanic Cloud where ram pressure is stripping, and the compression of the interstellar medium likely resulting from this, is at a maximum.

Tarantula Nebula on the 15/11/19 at 21:00pm. Image Credit: Stellarium Tarantula Nebula - Image copyright: Roger Goom - astrophotography.com.au
47 Tucanae:

47 Tucanae or NGC 104 is the second largest and second brightest globular cluster in Milky Way. The Globular cluster is 16,000 light years away from us and is located in Constellation Tucana (Named after the Tucan bird) and it’s a naked eye ‘star’ and clearly visible in binoculars as a ‘fuzzy blob’. Omega Centauri contains at least 1 – 2 million stars and the cluster has a diameter of roughly 120 light-years and the stars are roughly 10 billion years old. The average distance between the stars at the centre are around 10% of a light year or more than 100 times the diameter of our solar system. In February 2017, indirect evidence for a likely intermediate-mass black hole in 47 Tucanae was announced.

47 Tucanae on the 15/11/19 at 21:00pm. Image Credit: Stellarium 47 Tucanae. Image Credit & Copyright: Mike O'Day

Phases of The Moon:

November 2019 Moon phases

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