Star Calendar – November 2016

Star Calendar

November 2016

Star Calendar Planets:

Moon draws exceptionally near this month (nearest in 30 years) while also Full as it sets on the morning of the 14th.

Mercury peaks into the evening sky as Saturn departs. Around the 23rd will be the first chance to see Mercury – and the last for Saturn for this apparition. Failing that, try again on the 30th when the razor-thin new crescent Moon may serve as a guide. If that fails too, try under the Moon on Dec. 1st.

Venus crosses the Teapot (or Sagittarius) while making her oh-so-slow ascent into evening.

Sun is furthest ahead of Greenwich Time for the year on the 2nd, but is still behind our clocks – until we finally fall back from Daylight-distortion Time on the 6th.

Mars is beyond culmination (its highest altitude for that day, in South) at sunset now, and is being slowly overtaken by the Sun – but Mars will appear higher in the sky on successive nights at a given time because it is progressing beyond the midwinter portion of the ecliptic – and the ecliptic is more steeply inclined to the horizon at sunset. A little counter-intuitive.

Jupiter also appears higher every morning, but simply because the Sun is leaving it behind. The morning ecliptic is still very steep (October mornings are like March evenings in this respect) and will gradually drop through January. Jupiter gets a visit from the Moon on mornings of the 24-25th.

Saturn settles into the sunset, next to appear some morning after midwinter.

Star Calendar Days:

  1      Sunrise/sunset in Spring Valley at 7:28/17:51 (10h23m daylight)

  1, 2   Venus, Saturn & Moon over Antares in SW at 6:45PM

  2      Equation of time maximum for year 16m26s

  3      Moon above Venus in SW at 7:PM

  6      Mornings brighten after U.S. clocks move back to Standard Time

          Moon above Mars South and West in evening

  9      God help us from our dis-aster (bad star) – whichever way it went

11      Martinmas – begins cross-quarter winter

13-14 Super Duper Moon: Full Frost Moon 8:52 AM at extreme perigee

16      Moon rises ENE on the summer colure at 7PM

17      Leonids peak in poor viewing conditions (too much Moon, too nearby)

20-21 Moon passes Regulus without occultation (was one last time)

24      Mercury may just be visible with Saturn at 5:PM with perfect WSW horizon

25      Moon and Jupiter above Spica in SE at 6:AM

28      Solstice on Mars, mid-winter for northern half

30      Mercury to left of Hilal Moon in WSW at 5:PM

          Sunrise/sunset in Spring Valley at 7:01/16:28 (9h27m daylight)

Star Calendar – December 2015

Star Calendar

December 2015

Star Calendar Planets:

MOON rises as a waning crescent just above Venus at 6:AM on the 7th. Watch the pair through the day using the crescent Moon to find Venus very close by the convex side of the Moon. After having lunch, go watch Venus disappear behind the crescent, SE at about 12:40PM. Just over an hour later find a good view to the WSW and stare at the Moon again to catch Venus wink back from behind the invisible (gibbous dark part) side. Reappearance should occur at 1:50PM – but look early as that might not be precise. Binoculars are helpful, but this occultation should be visible without them. The season of New Moon nearest winter solstice gives us the darkest days of the year – contrasted by the season of the “Long-Night” Full moon – a kind of echo of summer during which it does not get dark for several days, Christmas Midnight will be like a soft Summer Noon.

MERCURY makes a fair evening appearance this month, culminating just after Christmas. Mercury will be the brightest object in the SW in evening twilight (excepting airplanes and such) and will not twinkle (or scintillate) as low stars tend to.

VENUS passes Spica on the 1st and pulls away from pursuing Mars, hides behind the Moon on the 7th (see above) then crosses into the Scales on the 11th. She then serves to draw our attention to the reappearance of Saturn sometime during the mornings approaching Christmas. We can then look forward to a stunning grouping of Venus, Saturn, a crescent Moon and Mars’ nemesis Antares on the morning of Epiphany.

SUN is noticeably a super-minority presence now; it’s down twice as long as it’s up. It stands, astronomically, in the Teapot for solstice – which is fairly near the direction of the center of the Milky Way.

MARS reaches Spica on Christmas – on which morning we will see a lay of planets, from SE to S: Saturn, Venus, Mars/Spica, Jupiter; and beyond in the SW, Regulus. The line of the ecliptic is hence easily seen!

JUPITER is nearly stationary this month and tests the extremity of Leo in barely discernable direct motion. He will go retrograde at Epiphany.

SATURN enters the morning scene near Antares sometime mid-month. With a decent view to the SE the two should be visible Christmas morning, and a definite presence by New Year’s morning; 6:30 is a good time to look.

GEMINIDS are quite reliable meteors and find very good circumstances (no moonlight) this year for a good showing. Lie down in a sleeping bag somewhere with feet toward the SE and look up. It’s a good night for catnapping.

Star Calendar Days:

1 Sunrise/sunset in Spring Valley at 7:02/16:28 (9h26m daylight)
3-4 LQ Moonrise/set in Spring Valley at 23:44/12:29 (12h45m moonup)
7 Moon rises just above Venus, SE at 6AM, Spica and Mars above them
Moon occults Venus shortly after 12:40PM, re-emerges around 1:50PM
8 Sunrise at 7:09; latest for 2015
This week has the most (celestially) dark skies for the year
11 NM Moonrise/set in Spring Valley at 07:01/17:07 (10h 6m moonup)
13-14 Geminid meteors – in propitious circumstances!
18-19 FQ Moonrise/set I Spring Valley at 12:04/00:28 (12h24m moonup)
21 Sunrise/sunset in Spring Valley at 7:18/16:31 (9h13m daylight)
Solstice at 23:48, longest night of the year
22 Mars passes to left of Spica, in SSE at 6AM
Sky is lit by Sun or Moon almost continuously for the following week
23 Moon rises beneath Aldebaran, East at 5:PM
25 Oh, what a beautiful morning! (see MARS above)
FM Moonrise/set in Spring Valley at 17:14/07:04 (13h50m moonup)
28 Mercury highest in evening sky for this appearance
31 Sunrise/sunset in Spring Valley at 7:21/16:37 (9h16m daylight)
Moon rises beneath Jupiter just before the New Year opens, east.

Star Calendar – November 2015

Star Calendar

November 2015

Star Calendar Planets:

Moon sweeps the foot of Gemini on the first evening of November, then wends its waning way with early morning visitations to Regulus, Jupiter, Venus/Mars and Spica during the subsequent week. On the 12th The Moon serves as an aid to our last view of Saturn for a month or so – but only for those with a clear view to the WSW. The 26th provides an opportunity to see an occultation – of Aldebaran – but that will be just hours after Full Moon – so Aldebaran may not compete well. A daytime occultation with a crescent Moon is coming in December…

Mercury spends this month crossing the far side of the Sun.

Venus swaps places with Mars as the pair cross into Virgo on the 2nd. She then scoots for the protection of ascending Spica, reaching her by the end of the month.

Sun has again been very active in unusual ways, and has even produced aurora visible in daylight.

Mars does a turn with Venus and then ascends as Venus descends. Mars will not meet Spica until Christmas.

Jupiter also heads for Virgo but slows to a crawl, stopping just shy of the boundary to Virgo after Christmas to begin his loop in Leo early next year. Jupiter will not step into Virgo until next August.

Saturn will be overtaken by the Sun on the 30th and will visible again some morning in mid-December.

Star Calendar Dates:

1      Daylight Time ends; 2AM=1AM Standard Time

          Moon near foot of Gemini (Alhena) in SW before sunrise

          Sunrise/sunset in Spring Valley at 6:27/16:52 EST (10h25m daylight)

1-2     Moon passes through the feet of Gemini

2-3     Venus falls beneath Mars just as the pair cross into Virgo; predawn ESE

3      Clocks furthest ahead of Sun for the year (Equation of Time maximal)

5      Moon below Regulus, SE predawn

6      Moon beside Jupiter, SE predawn

7      Moon beside Venus/Mars, SE predawn

          Calendrical midpoint between equinox and solstice

9      Moon near Spica, ESE predawn

10      314th day; temporal circumference of circle with diameter of April 10 (day 100:-)

11      Martinmas, traditional cross-quarter day (see the 7th)

12      Moon (beside Saturn; last glimpse ‘til Dec.) 5:15 PM if very good WSW view!

17      Mercury crosses far side of Sun (Superior conjunction)

18      Leonid meteors peak – face east in the early morning

25      Full Beaver Moon 5:44PM

26      Just-Full Moon occults Aldebaran, around 5:45AM in west (use binoculars)

29      Venus passes Spica, predawn in SE

30      Sunrise/sunset in Spring Valley at 7:01/16:29 EST (9h28m daylight)

Star Calendar – November 2014

Star Calendar

November 2014

Star Calendar Planets:

Moon ‘s syzygy/perigee is becoming less synchronous now so we will have a respite from tidal inundations for a while. The next large spring tides are expected in late February.

Mercury is at an advantageous position for viewing as the month begins. The not-so-great maximum elongation of 19 degrees on the 1st is to good advantage as the ecliptic is pretty steeply inclined to the eastern horizon in the morning these days.

Venus crosses paths with Jupiter in the obscurity of the Sun this month. Venus, briefly an evening star as 2014 began, was a morning star for most of this year and will reappear in the evening next month – to dominate that position for much of 2015.

Sun is pointing a very large and active sunspot at us as I write. This one should be easily visible to the eye (with the same protection appropriate for eclipse viewing, or with an image projected onto a screen with a lens or pinhole). This spot will rotate away from view on Nov. 1st, but may appear again, mid-month, in some metamorphosed fashion.

Mars will continue to set about three hours after the Sun all of this month and now appears as a “mere” 1st magnitude star, similar to Altair – which stands above him in the evening. Mars can be as bright as -3. and as dim as +1.6, but the range varies greatly from one synodic cycle to another as the maximal and minimal distances change a lot due to its orbital eccentricity and to the highly variable albedo of its ice caps and dust storms. The last opposition was maximally at -1.5, slightly brighter than the brightest star, Sirius. Mars just had a very close encounter with a comet that flew a mere 90,000 miles in front of its path, (perpendicular and south-to-north) – rather like having a bird fly across the windshield as one drives along.

Jupiter slackens pace in its approach to Regulus, coming to a halt in early December. Jupiter will now rise before midnight, but is still to be experienced as a feature of the morning sky.

Saturn crosses the far side of the Sun on the 18th and will become visible in the morning sometime during Advent. Continue reading