Sky at a Glance 2022 November 5 – 12

Photo showing autumn star clusters in the Taurus/Perseus region of the night sky.

This Week’s Sky at a Glance, 2022 November 5 – 12
~by Curt Nason

I like to observe the sky at least once every day that I can, even if it is just for a few minutes. Often that entails observing the Sun through filtered telescopes and sketching the sunspots and prominences in my logbook. At night if I don’t feel like taking out a telescope I grab binoculars to perhaps see a comet or Mercury, or more often I tour the brighter star clusters. The mid-autumn constellations are home to many star clusters within easy reach of binoculars.

I usually start with the best open cluster, the Pleiades (M45) in the shoulder of Taurus the Bull, and focus the binos on its stars. The large V-shaped Hyades cluster, catalogued as Melotte 25, is nearby forming the face of the bull. It is anchored by orange Aldebaran at one corner, but that star is not really part of the cluster because it is less than half the distance to the others. The brightest star in nearby Perseus, Mirfak, is part of a group of stars called Melotte 20 that resembles a miniature version of the constellation Draco in binoculars. Perseus also holds the star cluster M34, which appears as a fuzzy patch in binos due to its distance. Between Perseus and Cassiopeia is the scenic Double Cluster (Melotte 13/14). Follow a string of stars from there to a large, dimmer cluster called Stock 2 or the Strongman Cluster.

This Week in the Solar System

Saturday’s sunrise in Moncton is at 8:05 am and sunset will occur at 5:59 pm, giving 9 hours, 54 minutes of daylight (8:08 am and 6:06 pm in Saint John). Next Saturday the Sun will rise at 7:15 am and set at 4:50 pm, giving 9 hours, 35 minutes of daylight (7:18 am and 4:57 pm in Saint John). We revert to Standard Time at 02:00 on Sunday; otherwise we would not see a sunrise before 8 am until March.

The Moon is full and probably reddish orange on Tuesday morning, with a lunar eclipse beginning at 5:08 and totality from 6:16 until it sets around sunrise. Saturn is at its best for observing in early evening, and on Wednesday telescope or binocular users might see Jupiter’s moon Io disappear behind the planet at 6:38 and emerge from the shadow on the other side at 9:52. With the time change Mars will be rising before 7 pm. Mercury is at superior conjunction on Tuesday, while Uranus reaches opposition the next day. The South Taurid meteor shower peaks this weekend and the North Taurids next weekend, with shooting stars emanating from points near the Pleiades star cluster. Although neither shower yields a lot of meteors, they have a higher proportion of bright ones called fireballs.

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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