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.
Star Calendar Days:
1 Sunrise/sunset in Spring Valley at 7:27/17:52 EDT (10h25m daylight)
Mercury appears above and brighter than Spica, ESE 5:30-5:45AM
Set clocks back tonight as –
2 U.S. sheds Daylight Time. 02:00 EDT = 01:00 EST
3-4 Mercury draws nearest Spica (conjunct), ESE at 4:45 EST
6 Full Beaver Moon at 5:23PM
8 Moon rises near Aldebaran ENE at 5:45PM
10 314.15926th day of year at 3:49:21AM
Moon rises at the foot of Gemini (Alhena), east at 8:PM
11 Martinmas, traditional beginning of winter in Scotland
12 Venus and Jupiter cross paths – obscured by Sun
14 Moon below Jupiter in south around 5:AM
15 Moon below Regulus in south around 5:AM
17-18 Leonid meteors peak as Sun sets – appear anywhere in sky, radiant rising 11:PM
18 Saturn conjunct with Sun
19 Moon above Spica SE at 5:AM
21 Moon above Mercury briefly visible after 5:AM in ESE
26 Moon beside Mars in SW at 5:30PM
30 Sunrise/sunset in Spring Valley at 7:01/16:29 EST (9h28m daylight)