NOVEMBER 2010, STARS OVER WOLLUMBIN, OUR SOUTHERN SKY

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November’s Music Chairs of the visible (and invisible) Planets

MERCURY, Morning Star in October, will be lost in the glare of the Sun during the month of November. The last chance to observe our small brother will be on November 1, very low on the western horizon, with big  brother Mars above.

Mercury will reappear as an Evening Star in the west after sunset around the end of November, by then transiting very close to Mars.

VENUS disappeared in the light of the Sun on October 19. After her Inferior Conjunction with the Sun on October 29, our sister planet will make her appearance as a Morning Star around November 4 to 7h, rising before the Sun (heliacal rising).

Venus will become brighter and more easy to observe in the pre-dawn sly, as she gradually separates from the Sun and rises earlier and earlier each morning.

Compare Venus rising on November 1 at 5.33 am, while the Sun on the same day rises at 6.08 am, less than half hour after Venus, with Venus’ rising at 3.52 am, on November 30, while the Sun on the same day will rise at 5.55 am, two hours later!

MARS will still be visible in November, after sunset in the South West, inching ever closer to the horizon. It can be observed within the head of the Scorpio on November 1, and against the Constellation Ophiuchus, that some call the Thirteenth Constellation, on November 30.  

Below are two snapshots of these events, the top one taken on November 1 and the bottom one on November 30.

JUPITER is the easiest planet to observe in November. At the start of the month the giant planet rises around 3.45 pm and sets around 4 am, dominating the night sky between dusk and dawn. It will however rise and set earlier and earlier as the month advances (rising at 1.50 pm and setting at 2.09 am on November 30).

With a pair of good binoculars we could even be able to spot far away URANUS, close to Jupiter throughout the night, a bluish/green star-like object,the brightest in the vicinity of Jupiter. Uranus is in fact so bright this month to be just seen even with the naked eye, under dark conditions, in places away from city lights.

Jupiter and Uranus became conjunct for the first time in nearly 14 years on June 9. Jupiter and Uranus meet cyclically (synodical cycle) every 13.7 years. This time they are playing a prolonged duet, though, having  met twice in 2010 (June 9 and September 22) and a third time on January 2, 2011. This is a rarer opportunity for the energies of these planets to blend for a sustained period, so exerting a greater overall influence over the affairs of the whole year. The last time Jupiter and Uranus met three times was in 1983, 27 years ago.

Animation of the triple conjunction of Jupiter-Uranus in 2010/11, from Martin J.Powell astronomical site, can be found HERE.

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SATURN will be lost in the twilight at the start of November, rising too close to the Sun (Heliacal Rising), the same way as Venus. As the month advances Saturn will rise a bit earlier every day and we will be able to observe it again, rising about three hours before the Sun by the month’s end.

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 All the Sky Snapshots have been generated using Stellarium, a wonderful Planetarium freeware software.

Information for the Sky Events has been gathered from these web sites:

http://stargazing.suite101.com/article.cfm/night-sky-observing-guide-for-june-2010

http://home.mira.net/~reynella/skywatch/ssky.htm#update

http://astroblogger.blogspot.com/

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/mjpowell/Astro/Naked-Eye-Planets/Naked-Eye-Planets.htm#PlanetList

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