Sky Excitement for November

But first, the October eclipse over Half Moon Bay — from David
Venus is shining brightly over the European Southern Observatory’s La Silla Observatory in Chile.

What’s the bright ‘Star’ in the east in the morning?

It’s Venus. From January through September, the closest planet to Earth dominated the post-sunset night western sky as the “Evening Star,” becoming ever-brighter, before sinking back into the sun’s glare.

Then it did the opposite, appearing to rise higher into the pre-dawn sky in the east during a dazzling “Morning Star” phase.

Venus, in the constellation Leo, reached its “greatest elongation west” on  October 23rd. That’s how astronomers describe its farthest distance from the sun in the morning sky—about 46°, so about half-way up the sky—something that logically makes it more easily seen by more people. It will remain relatively high for a few months, dropping back into the sun’s glare next spring to re-emerge in the post-sunset sky in the west next summer.


Understanding The Orbit Of Jupiter

Go outside a couple of hours after sunset this month and you’ll see a bright planet rising in the eastern sky. That’s Jupiter, which is now shining at a magnitude of -2.9 in the constellation Aries.

NASA’s Juno spacecraft is currently buzzing around it taking incredible images of the giant planet and its moon Io while the European Space Agency just launched its JUICE mission to take a closer look at the three other giant moons Europa, Callisto and Ganymede.

Point any pair of binoculars at Jupiter and you’ll see all four moons (unless, that is, one of them is in front or behind the giant planet).

As an outer planet to Earth, Jupiter orbits the sun much more slowly. In fact, it takes Jupiter 12 Earth-years to complete one orbit. So it can be seen slowly moving across the entire night sky with respect to the background stars. can be seen.

Once each Earth-year our planet gets between the sun and Jupiter. This moment, called Jupiter’s opposition, sees the outer planet at its biggest, brightest and best of the year as seen from Earth. It’s only then that we can see 100% of Jupiter. It also rises in the east at sunset and sets in the west at sunrise, so it’s visible all night. Jupiter’s opposition this year takes place on November 3—and that is why it’s already so big and bright in the early evening night sky!             — by .  Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website or some of my other work here.


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