This Week’s Sky at a Glance, November 24 – December 1
~by Curt Nason
Orion can be seen getting out of bed around 8 pm now, preparing for a night of hunting. Being a giant and very old, it takes an hour and a half for his hourglass shape to clear the horizon. He rises on his side and stands upright when he is in the south. The celestial equator, an imaginary line in the sky directly above our equator, runs very near Mintaka, the star at the right of Orion’s Belt. Therefore, Mintaka rises due east. Notice how huge Orion appears as he rises, bigger than he appears a few hours later in the southeast. This is the same optical illusion that makes the Moon appear larger when it is rising or setting. The twins Castor and Pollux of the constellation Gemini rise on their side at the same time as Orion, just to his left.
If you are into genealogy, Orion, as a son of Poseidon, is a cousin to Pollux, a son of Zeus. Castor had the same mother as Pollux but a mortal father. Genealogy is more complicated when immortals are involved.
This Week in the Solar System
Saturday’s sunrise in Moncton is at 7:32 am and sunset will occur at 4:39 pm, giving 9 hours, 7 minutes of daylight (7:34 am and 4:46 pm in Saint John). Next Saturday the Sun will rise at 7:32 am and set at 4:39 pm, giving 9 hours, 7 minutes of daylight (7:34 am and 4:46 pm in Saint John).
The Moon passes near the Beehive star cluster on Tuesday and is at third quarter on Thursday, appearing near the bright star Regulus in Leo. Saturn sets two hours after sunset late in the week, past its prime for good observing. Mars remains in good observing position most of the evening but it gets smaller and reveals less detail in a telescope as Earth increases distance from it. Venus, the morning star, is at its brightest on December 1. Jupiter is in conjunction behind the Sun on Monday while Mercury reaches inferior conjunction between us and the Sun on Tuesday.
The Saint John Astronomy Club meets in the Rockwood Park Interpretation Centre on Saturday, December 1 at 7 pm. All are welcome.
Questions? Contact Curt Nason.