The huge and brilliant constellation Orion rises up from the eastern horizon by mid-evening in November. This one is a favourite of mine with its spectacular nebula Orion at the bottom of the sword that hangs from the three stars of Orion’s belt. It is easy to make out with binoculars and is a glorious eyeful through a modest telescope.
Another constellation that never fails to amaze me is the Great Square of Pegasus. Pegasus can be found during November high in the south just below the zenith. You should have no trouble finding it if you go out between 8 and 9 pm. It covers over 1100 square degrees and is one of the largest constellations in the sky!
The constellation Andromeda looks like a V that rises at a diagonal up and to the left of Pegasus. Half way up Andromeda and about 5 degrees to the right, you will find the galaxy Andromeda. What a beautiful sight in a telescope! If you use averted vision (see footnote) on a clear dark night, you can actually see it by eye! If you look to the left at equal distance, you will see the spiral galaxy M33. It is actually in the constellation Triangulum. Both galaxies can be made out with the naked eye on a nice clear night. They are quite easy to find with binoculars.
This month on November 17th - 18th, we have the Leonid meteor shower. It peaks just before dawn on this night. It is usually a weak shower with about 15 meteors per hour on average (ZHR 15-20). There is no Moon, which will make it easier to make out more and fainter meteors. I plan on going out on the evenings leading up to that night and afterwards, to see if there are any pre and post peak meteors. Remember that meteors can appear anywhere in the sky. The shower is named for the constellation that marks their point of origin. The S Taurid meteor shower last month was surprisingly active with quite a few fireballs. You just never know! Maybe we’ll get a repeat of that activity for the N Taurid meteor shower on November 12th. Both of the Taurid meteor showers are spread out over several nights.
November 11: New Moon occurs. Watch for a slim crescent in the west leading up to this night.
November 11 - 12: N Taurid meteor shower.
November 17 – 18: Leonid meteor shower.
November 25: Full Moon. This Moon is called the Full Hunter’s Moon or the Full Beaver Moon. If you could hear the rifle shots echoing in my area, you wouldn’t doubt the hunter part of this Moon. As for beavers, this was the time of year to trap beaver while they were active and preparing for winter.
November 28: Venus passes 4 degrees north of the bright star Spica in the very early morning in the east.
Remember! A modest pair of binoculars will give you the freedom to tour the Universe.
(Averted vision is the technique of looking just off to the side of where the deep space object is located and this brings the more sensitive black and white receptors in the back of the eye into the field of view. Dimmer objects can be seen).
The Beginner’s Observer’s Guide by Leo Enright is available at the Sharbot Lake Pharmacy or by contacting the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada www.rasc.ca/publications, subscriptions for our very own excellent Canadian astronomy magazine, Sky News, are also available from RASC..