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Sunrise over the Atlantic near Matanzas Inlet, Florida. Photo: Dann Blackwood, Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center, courtesy USGS

EYES TO THE SKY: Here comes the sun, Venus, waxing moon and Leonid meteors

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By Monday, Nov 12, 2018 Learning 1

November 12 – 25, 2018

Mount Washington — Out for a walk one late afternoon on a recent weekend away from home, I looked up to appreciate the Sun. My senses were heightened in response to arriving on the sandy shore of the Great Paconic Bay that divides the North and South Forks of Long Island. As I played at the water’s edge, gale force winds pushed me, demanding all my strength to resist falling forward into the lapping waves.

The brilliant white sphere of the Sun, muted by a grey sky, was suspended to the south of west above the horizon. Its position reflected a southerly journey of seven weeks from the due west point of sunset on the autumnal equinox. Our Sun’s arc is shorter and flatter; day length is shorter by two hours since the equinox. Sun-aware Earthlings will observe sunrise further south of east and sunset further south of west for another month.

I left the beach to retreat into a nearby cottage out of the fierce wind, flying sand and rising tide. After sleeping soundly, I awoke to light on the window shades, jumped out of bed and cracked open the cottage door. Astonished, I was met by still air and a great expanse of placid aquamarine water that reflected a clear cerulean sky; patches of indigo current danced around the settled center. Where the glistening bay reached the sea, a rosy red rounded radiance colored the skyline, a concentrated shape of color above the east-southeast horizon. The world seemed suspended in a state of peace and timelessness. Suddenly, a fine point of fiery red light, like a star, pierced the horizon in the middle of the aura that I was observing. A star had appeared! The Sun rose.

Up before dawn? Then look for the bright stars Spica and Arcturus. These stars will disappear in the bright morning twilight, whereas Venus will shine on! Image courtesy EarthSky.org

Observing highlights:

The morning sky:
Sunrise 6:40 a.m. on the 12th; 6:55 a.m. on the 25th.
Planet Venus, -4.46 magnitude (m), rises before daybreak in the east-southeast, leading the Sun into the morning sky. With a view to the horizon, look for Venus up to half an hour before sunrise.
Arcturus, -0.07m, is above and left of Venus, in the east, bright until about an hour before sunrise.
Sirius, -1.47m, is to the right of Venus, southwest, and bright until about 45 minutes before sunrise.
Leonid meteor shower peak predicted for Friday the 16th and Saturday the 17th.
Best views, 15 to 20 meteors per hour, between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m.

November 16 and 17, 2018. Image courtesy EarthSky.org

Evening sky:
Sunset 4:35 p.m. on the 12th; on the 25th, 4:25 p.m.
Waxing crescent moon in the southwest from the 12thto the 14th; first quarter moon near Mars on the 15th; Full Moon on the 23rd.

Opportunities to participate

Every Saturday – Southhold, L.I., N.Y. Custer Institute Observatory – http://www.custerobservatory.org/visit.html

Fridays, 8 – 9 p.m. through December 7 – Williams College, Williamstown, reservations required – https://communications.williams.edu/news-releases/9_14_2018_planetariumfall2018/

Resources

USGA – https://www.usgs.gov/about/about-us/who-we-are


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One Comment   Add Comment

  1. susan bachelder says:

    Always a pleasure to read your column – Last night, the crescent moon in a pale evening sky reminded me of my grandfather. He would always ask us as children, ” Can you see the moon? Can you hang a Dutchman’s pant’s on it?” He served in WWI at Verdun as a scout in the Lost Battalion. His memory is precious at every waxing moon.

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