Sky at a Glance November 23 – 30

Photo showing the Moon and planets in the early evening sky on Thursday, November 28, 2019.

This Week’s Sky at a Glance, 2019 November 23 – 30 ~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 7:30 am and sunset will occur at 4:40 pm, giving 9 hours, 10 minutes of daylight (7:32 am and 4:47 pm in Saint John). Next Saturday the Sun will rise at 7:39 am and set at 4:35 pm, giving 8 hours, 56 minutes of daylight (7:41 am and 4:43 pm in Saint John).

The Moon does a snowball dance with the planets this week, appearing to the left of Mars on Sunday morning, to the lower left of Mercury the next day, and sliding above the Sun in its new phase on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Mercury and Mars edge to within 8 degrees until the inner planet reaches its greatest elongation from the Sun on Thursday, after which it turns tail and speeds away. Venus passes by Jupiter in the early evening sky this weekend, and on Thursday the Moon sits just above Venus with Jupiter a binocular width to their lower right. On Friday evening the Moon is below Saturn.

Questions? Contact Curt Nason.

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