Yes, it’s coming, the blizzards, crumby road conditions, -40C nights and shoveling, shoveling, shoveling.
So when you think about it, November ain’t so bad. You don’t have to bundle up like Bib the Michelin Man and you can still leave your Stanfield long Johns or Lady Stanfield counterparts neatly folded in your dresser drawer. What you can do is dress sensibly, step outside and take a look at the winter’s preview of coming attractions.
Orion, Taurus and the Pleiades are creeping up the eastern horizon with Auriga the Charioteer already ahead of them. The Great Square of Pegasus the flying horse is almost directly overhead. Even the Summer Triangle is getting the hint that it has overstayed its welcome and is dipping into the western horizon.
The Andromeda Galaxy is also overhead and in its best position for both naked eye and telescopic viewing. You will need a dark rural location to see it naked eye, but it can be done. Given the fact that our sister galaxy is 2.5 million light years away, being able to spot it with no visual aids is an accomplishment worthy of bragging rights.
Perseus is now moving overhead and that makes for a great opportunity for those with binoculars to check out another faint fuzzy, the Double Cluster. The name says it all, almost. It is indeed a double star cluster. What the name doesn’t (and can’t) say is that it’s a jaw dropper in a pair of binoculars. No matter how long you’ve been doing astronomy, you just keep coming back to the Double Cluster. Even seasoned astro-imagers who have scanned deep into our universe to image galaxies millions of light years away are drawn back to image the Double Cluster, just one more time.
Moon-a-tics will enjoy viewing a waxing Thin Crescent Moon on November 4. It’s my favourite phase of the Moon to watch without a telescope or binoculars. To me and the folks who designed a lot of flags, it is the most beautiful lunar phase going.
The telescope brigade will be jostling in line for a look at the First Quarter Moon on November 7. That’s a great phase because the shadows cast across the Moon’s surface highlight the major features such as mountains and craters as well as small rills and minor impacts. Then the Moon gets brighter until November 14 it reaches Full Moon Phase.
The planets are a mix of morning, sunset and night time targets. Mercury is cooling his heels behind the Sun, so forget about seeing the fleet footed messenger. Venus is still visible at sunset as is Mars. Saturn is all but lost in the sunset’s glare.
Over night, Uranus and Neptune can be seen in the constellations Pisces and Aquarius respectively, while early risers can catch Jupiter hovering over the rooftops.
That’s what’s up in November. So get up, dress up and look up
Stargazing by John Crossen
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