November 2015 - Dundee Astronomical Society


Dundee Astronomical Society Sky Notes for November 2015 Sky Map for 15


November 22:00

Illustration Courtesy of

The conjunction of Venus, Jupiter and Mars continues throughout the month. At the beginning of the month Venus rises above the horizon at 0330UT, just below Leo reaching its high point of 27 deg at around 0830 UT. Venus finally disappears at 1455 UT. The conjunction becomes wildly spaced by the end of the month rising at 0500 UT and setting at 1300 UT. With our weather and rising early morning if you can manage, it’s well worth the attempt. Look for Cassiopeia in the northern sky; it is a lovely sight of an evening with lots of interesting objects scattered around. Cepheus, a constellation in the northern sky named after Cepheus, King of Aethiopia in Greek mythology. Its brightest star is Alpha Cepheus with an apparent magnitude of 3.5. Delta Cephei is the prototype of an important class of star known as a Cepheid variable. Cepheus also hosts a

quasar which has an ultra massive black hole in its core at 40 billion solar masses, about 10,000 times more massive than the central black hole of the Milky Way, making it the most massive black hole known in the universe. There are many other interesting objects in the night sky now that the dark nights are here so why don’t you keep a note and bring your observations to the meetings and share them with other members, you never know someone else may be looking at the same objects as you.

The Planets

Mercury this month is very low in the sky in the morning, at an altitude of 3 deg and if you want to try and spot the planet look to the east – south east around the 1 st of the month at 0630 GMT. Mercury quite quickly disappears as the month progresses. If you fancy your chances, look towards Virgo. Have a look using binoculars although you will need to have a clear flat horizon to view the planet. Venus, along with Mercury, is visible in the early morning at 0600 in Virgo. At a magnitude of -4.2 it certainly earns the title of the Morning Star. When viewed through a telescope Venus has entered a waxing gibbous stage with its phase increasing from 54% at the start of the month to around 67% at the end. Venus can also be found in Virgo. Mars also in Virgo this month is still visible at around 0630 UT at an altitude of 30 deg, but when viewed through a telescope is quite small, but still shows its characteristic red colour. Jupiter at an altitude of 40 deg and resident in Leo can best be viewed at the end of the month at approximately 0530 UT and for a little time after. Saturn unfortunately is not visible this month. Uranus at last an evening object that can be viewed in Pisces at the beginning of the month at around 2230 UT. Being a magnitude of +5.7, when seen through a medium telescope, still shows its characteristic green colour Neptune best time to see this planet is around 2000 UT on the 1 st November and can be found in Aquarius at an altitude of 27 deg. When viewed through a telescope it has a distinctly blue hue. The Dwarf Planets Ceres is poorly placed this month for observing in the UK.

The Moon

Third Quarter November 3 rd . New Moon November 11 th . First Quarter November 19 th .

Full Moon November 25 th . This moon is called the Frosty, and the Hunter Moon.

Meteor Showers

The Taurid meteor shower this year peaks on the 5 th and 6 th of the month. With a ZHR of about 5 – 10 meteors per hour will probably not be that easy to spot unless you have deck chair, flask of hot tea/coffee and a blanket to wrap up in. The Taurids are unusual in that they consist of two streams with the first produced by dust grains from the Asteroid 2004 TG10; the second is produced by the dust and debris from Comet 2P Encke. Best time to view is around midnight from a dark location. This shower runs annually from 7 th September to 10 th December. It is worth noting that a 3 rd quarter moon may well get in the way of all but the brightest meteors. The Leonids this year peaks on the 17 th / 18 th of the month with a ZHR of approximately 15 per hour. About every 33 years there is a peak in the observed meteors with a show where hundreds of meteors can be seen; unfortunately the last time this occurred was in 2001. The shower is produced by the dust from the Comet Temple-Tuttle. The best time to view is again after midnight

Jim’s Focus of the Month Orion

Orion was a giant huntsman in Greek mythology that Zeus placed among the stars and became the constellation of Orion. Orion served several roles in ancient Greek culture. The story of the adventures of Orion, the hunter, is the one on which we have the most evidence. Orion is a very easy constellation to find sitting in the southern night sky, now rising in the early hours of the morning There are several magnificent objects to view in Orion, but we will only name a few here. M42 the Great Orion Nebula or Orion Nebula is a showpiece object of the night sky. With an apparent magnitude of +4.0, the Orion Nebula is easily visible to the naked eye. Covering more than one degree of apparent sky it's also one of the largest of its type. The nebula is of the emission and reflection variety and a starforming region that is one of the brightest nebulae in the entire sky. NGC 2024 the Flame Nebula sits on the eastern hip of Orion the Hunter, and like M42 is an emission nebula. At the centre of the nebula is a cluster of newly formed stars. The Horsehead Nebula sits to the right and above the reflection nebula NGC2023, is a dark nebula in the constellation Orion. The nebula is located just to the south of the star Alnitak, which is farthest east on Orion's Belt, and is part of the much larger Orion Molecular Cloud Complex. The nebula was first recorded in 1888 by Scottish astronomer Williamina Fleming on photographic plate B2312 taken at the Harvard College Observatory. The Horsehead Nebula is approximately 1500 light years from Earth. It is one of the most identifiable nebulae because of the shape of its swirling cloud of dark dust and gases, which bears some resemblance to a horse's head when viewed from Earth, so two objects to view for the price of one and well worth the effort to locate.

Of course let’s not forget the giant orange star Betelgeuse, now in its last stages of life.

Did You Know?

2 nd November 2000 The ISS first three man crew arrive on station composed of Space Station commander Bill Shepherd (US), Soyuz commander Yuri Gidzenko (Russia) and flight engineer Sergei Krikalev (Russia). 12 th November 1980 Voyager 1 flies past Saturn. 15 th November 1630 Johannes Kepler dies. 23 November 1977 Europe’s first geo stationary Meteorological Meteosat 1 launches. 29 th November 1803 Christian Doppler an Austrian Physicist is born.

Jim Barber

Director of Observations Dundee Astronomical Society