EYES TO THE SKY: Stargazing starts at 5 p.m. Turn down the house lights!

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By Monday, Nov 13 Learning  2 Comments
Todd Carlson courtesy www.darksky.org
Before and during the 2003 Northeast blackout, a massive power outage that affected 55 million people.

November 13 – 26, 2017

Mount Washington — Make it a habit, teach it to the young: lift your eyes to the sky and linger there a moment whenever you go outdoors. Whether to take a breath of fresh air or on your way somewhere, cultivate a three-dimensional view of your surroundings and include the sky in your awareness. Where the heavens meet the land, bathe in glowing pinks at sunrise and sunset, then alight on a crescent moon in morning or evening twilight. Recognize the seasons by the positions of the stars and the patterns they shape.

Position of the stars of the Summer Triangle rising in May.. Vega, top; Deneb lower left; Altair right. Thick, cosmic dust clouds block our night-time view of the Milky Way, creating what is sometimes called the Great Rift or Dark Rift, where stars are born. Image courtesy NASA

Closing in on the longest nights of the year, when stars appear as afternoon quickly turns to night, see Vega in the soft blue atmosphere high in the west at around 5 p.m. Now that Arcturus has departed the evening sky and Sirius rises late at night, Vega has moved into first place as the brightest star visible on November evenings. As darkness falls, see Altair appear to the left of Vega, then Deneb, above, creating the Summer Triangle.

Image courtesy Florida Atlantic University

Image courtesy Florida Atlantic University

With more than 14 hours of darkness, take care to keep house and property lights from unnecessarily illuminating the outdoors. Dimming and switching lights off and pulling shades and curtains over windows conserve energy and prevent light trespass beyond intended areas. Each of us is responsible for minimizing light pollution at home and in our communities. Like preserving natural landscapes for biodiversity, preserving access to clear skies that allow human contact with the cosmos is crucial to quality of life, to the fulfillment of human potential.

Please go to http://www.darksky.org/ to learn about and participate in “the important work of protecting our planet from the impact of light pollution, of saving billions of dollars in wasted energy, and giving millions of people the opportunity to see starry skies.”*

Let the moon help guide your eye to the planet Saturn (and possibly Mercury) for several days, centered on or near November 20. Bring binoculars. Image courtesy earthsky.org

Celestial viewing highlights:
November 13 – 17 before dawn, crescent moon with planets.
Friday, November 17 Leonid meteor shower before dawn and before dawn Saturday the 18th: 10 shooting stars per hour, likelihood of fireballs.
Saturday, November 18, 6:42 a.m., New Moon.
Morning of the 23rd Mercury highest in the pre-dawn sky.

Resources

*http://www.darksky.org/lighting/lighting-basics/ and http://www.darksky.org/light-pollution/

http://cescos.fau.edu/observatory/lightpol-prevent.html

LED Streetlight Conversion
Nightwatch http://mailchi.mp/darksky.org/dark-sky-progress-people-places-831961?e=b3cc3519bb

 


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2 Comments   Add Comment

  1. Susan P. Bachelder says:

    Oh Judy – what a pleasure to be reminded of the beauty of 14 hours of star filled skies – and how to protect them.
    Always a pleasure to read your posts.

  2. Judith Lerner says:

    I so love to read your column, Judy! I always love to look up to see what is in the night sky. Although, I am able to sort out very little of what we name and picture there. I walk my dog in that dark a couple of times a night, often at 2, 3, 4 in the morning. He loves to watch the sky, too. In fact, skywatching is his main intent for his late night walks. He waits for sky predators. Flying machines, not birds or stars.

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2017 Fall Festival of Shakespeare

Tuesday, Nov 14 - Students are encouraged to delve into Shakespeare’s works, unpack the language and savor the humor, intensity and transcendent beauty of Shakespeare’s plays.