November 2011 Skies
Interstellar messages, Luna, meteors, Orion and outer planets
Author: Jeffrey Owen Katz, Ph. D. | Published: Wednesday, October 26, 2011
It was during the November of 1500 that Nicolaus Copernicus first observed a Lunar Eclipse. In a more recent November, this time in 1966, the Lunar Orbiter 2 sailed off to image the dark side of the Moon and search for potential landing sites for Apollo lunar missions.
A message was broadcast from the Arecibo radio telescope on November 16th, 1974. The goal was to tell listeners on far away worlds about our home planet. Frank Drake prepared the message with the help of Carl Sagan. Sagan, of course, is an astronomer as well as the author of Contact, the novel upon which the same-named film was based. Carl Sagan was born on November 9th, 1934.
The evening of November 12th, 1833, marked the discovery of the Leonid meteor shower and the birth of modern meteor science. On that date, the Leonids put on an incredible fireworks show over Europe.
* The Leonid meteor shower will peak on the 17th and 18th of November, with about 40 meteors per hour, although some meteors may be observed anytime between the 13th and 20th of the month. As usual with meteor activity, best observing is after midnight. The shower is caused by debris left behind by the comet Tempel-Tuttle, a periodic comet that appears once every 33 years.
* Orion, the most famous winter constellation, will once again grace the early evening skies. Orion is noted for being the home to many nebula and star-forming regions. Look for it in eastern skies after 9:30pm.
* Jupiter will ride high in southeastern skies. It will be one of the brightest objects and cannot easily be missed. Nearby will be two bright asteroids, 2002 UX 25 and 2001 UR 163.
* On November 8th, an asteroid 1,300 feet in diameter—YU 55, will pass within .85 lunar distance units to Earth. It poses no threat. However, asteroids this large only pass close to Earth about every 30 years!
* Uranus and Neptune will be up, but best viewing is with a powerful telescope.
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