Dark Skies November Update
The attached map shows the Night Sky as seen in November at around 20.00hrs. By looking Southwards and holding the chart with S at the bottom, the centre of the map will show the stars overhead with the Northern sky behind you. Using the map earlier than 20.00 will mean the star patterns - Constellations, to use the correct term - will be shifted slightly to the East , while using later in the evening, the constellations will have moved more to the West. At the moment, there are no really bright Planets visible in the evening sky, only Uranus at the limit of Naked Eye visibility in Pisces is on show. Binoculars will show this Planet as a small blue/green dot of light, but no real disc will be seen. In the early morning skies though, the king of the Planets, Jupiter, is easily the brightest object around, but we’ll have to wait a couple of months before it will be seen in the evening skies.
During most of the Month, the Taurid meteor shower will be active. These typically describe long “slow” paths, sometimes 1-2 seconds in flight, and can be seen anytime until early December, with the maximum expected around the 12th but with only about 5 meteors per hour. The other, possibly more famous shower this month is the Leonids, with their maximum around the 17th. In the past, this shower has produced spectacular displays of meteors, but these “storms” occur some 33 years apart and this year is certainly not expected to deliver much more than around 15 per hour at best. Worth a viewing in the dawn hours if you’re an early riser!
Star wise, the obvious “W” or “M” pattern overhead is Cassiopeia. With the Milky Way coursing through the constellation, grab yourself a pair of binoculars, settle down in a comfy lounger and surf through the sea of stars and clusters within the boundaries of this easily recognisable feature. Over to the West, the three bright stars that make up the asterism of the Summer Triangle - (Vega, Deneb and Altair) - are slipping down towards the sunset, making way for some of the winter constellations like Orion and Taurus, who are starting to appear over in the Eastern skies.