Sky at a Glance 2021 November 20 – 27

Photo showing the constellations Ursa Major the Great Bear and Taurus the Bull in the late autumn sky.

This Week’s Sky at a Glance, 2021 November 20 – 27
~by Curt Nason

Stock market-minded astronomers could be inspired by looking to the northeast after twilight. On evenings in mid-May, Ursa Major the Great Bear is high overhead, dominating the sky. Taurus the Bull, meanwhile, sets early, and then we have several months of a bear market for stargazing. Later sunsets and extended twilight, with the compounded interest of daylight time, means sparse hours for viewing the summer night sky. Now that we are well beyond the autumnal equinox and have returned to standard time, early darkness reveals the Great Bear has reached bottom to the north after sunset, and the Celestial Bull is rising in the east. We are entering the bull market phase of stargazing.

Although we lose the globular clusters and nebulae that abound within the Milky Way areas of Scorpius, Ophiuchus and Sagittarius, we can still observe the summer treasures near Lyra and Cygnus before they set. The autumn constellations of Cassiopeia, Andromeda and Perseus are peaking in mid-evening, ceding their reign to the bright stars and open clusters of winter’s Taurus, Orion and his dogs, Auriga and Gemini by midnight. Early risers can start on the springtime galaxies in Leo and Virgo before morning twilight. For stargazers, as the carol goes, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Invest some time in observing the night sky.

This Week in the Solar System

Saturday’s sunrise in Moncton is at 7:27 am and sunset will occur at 4:42 pm, giving 9 hours, 15 minutes of daylight (7:29 am and 4:49 pm in Saint John). Next Saturday the Sun will rise at 7:36 am and set at 4:37 pm, giving 9 hours, 1 minute of daylight (7:38 am and 4:44 pm in Saint John).

The Moon is one day past full this Saturday and at third quarter phase next Saturday. Although Jupiter and Saturn are moving eastward relative to the stars, they appear a little farther toward the west at the same time each evening due to Earth’s speedier orbit. Meanwhile, Venus is moving eastward with the Sun and now it makes an obvious line-up with the two gas giants in the early evening. The line-up will get tighter over the next few weeks and Mercury will join the parade near year’s end. On Tuesday telescope users might see the shadows of Jupiter’s moons Ganymede and Callisto crossing the planet between 8 and 10:40 pm. Mars is working its way toward visibility in the morning sky but binoculars are required to pick it out in twilight. The International Space Station will be making two evening passes each night throughout the week. Check the Heavens-Above website for times of visibility.

On Sunday evening at 8 pm, tune in to the Sunday Night Astronomy Show via the Facebook page or YouTube channel of Astronomy by the Bay.

Questions? Contact Curt Nason.

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