Friday, December 8, 2023

Space Is The Place: The Night Sky Over Belper, November 2023

In November’s Night Sky: Jupiter and Saturn can be observed.  The Moon occults Venus on the 9th.  Watch out for Leonids on the 17 / 18th.


The Museum of The Moon: Derby Cathedral

The Museum of The Moon is at the Derby Cathedral up to Friday the 10th of November, so this is your last chance to see it for a while.

Measuring seven metres (23ft) in diameter, Luke Jarram’s Museum of the Moon features detailed NASA imagery of the lunar surface.  Take the opportunity to walk around the Moon to see its far side!  (Headline Image:  A composite of the near and the far side of the Moon, courtesy of NASA images).

Entry is free (though there is a suggested donation of £3).  More details here: Derby Cathedral: Museum of the Moon.


The Moon Occults Venus

A crescent Moon will occult Venus on the 9th of November.

The crescent Moon will appear to be close to Venus from the early morning onwards (from 3.00am) and will obscure Venus in the daylight hours just before 9.45am.

The Moon can be seen in daylight, but Venus is harder to spot.  I am hoping that the event will be visible through binoculars or a telescope.

The best time to watch will be from 9.30 am, this should give the view of the Moon appearing to approach Venus and then the bright edge of the crescent Moon slowly obscuring the planet (around the 7 o’clock position if looking through binoculars – the image will be inverted if looking through a telescope).  There is a good observation guide from the British Astronomical Association here: Occultation of Venus, 9th November.

Be extra careful if observing this event through binoculars or a telescope, you don’t want to accidentally look towards the Sun, which will also be in the sky at this time.  If you can, make sure that the Sun is hidden from your view by (for example) a wall or the side of your house.


Leonids Meteor Shower (17th / 18th of November)

The Leonids Meteor Shower will peak on the night of Friday the 17th of November going into the early morning hours of Saturday 18th of November.  Seeing should be good, as the Moon won’t be in the way.  The predicted rate of meteor activity is low, at around 10-15 meteors per hour  (but expect to see much less than this, maybe two or three).  Leonids are fast and bright meteors – start looking from 11.00pm onwards.

As always, find a dark site to view from, try to see as much of the sky as possible.  Look up, be patient.


The Moon:

9th of November: Early morning: The crescent Moon appears to be near to Venus and occults it in the daylight hours (9.45am)

20th November: The Moon appears to be close to Saturn

25th November: The Moon appears to be near Jupiter

27th November: The full Moon


The Planets:

Jupiter shines brightly in the south, from nightfall onwards.  Jupiter is well placed for observation, so, if you can, now is a good time to view it through a telescope or binoculars to have a closer look.

A good pair of binoculars (around 10×50) will resolve Jupiter to a disc and will show the more prominent Galilean moons.  A telescope will show its bands, and you may be able to discern the great red spot

Saturn is clearly visible by looking south-west.  In its part of the sky it is the brightest star-like object.  Use the Moon as a marker to locate it on the 20th of November.  Most astronomy telescopes will show Saturn’s rings.

Venus is now very bright, shining as the “morning star” just before dawn.  See above, for details of its occultation by the crescent Moon on the 9th of November.

Uranus is in the same region of sky as Jupiter (in the constellation of Aries).  It is very hard to see, you will need a decent telescope and a star guide to positively locate it, but it is always a pleasing object to find. (see observation notes, Space is The Place: February 2021).


International Space Station

Leading up to mid November, there are no alerts for sightings of the International Space Station.  Check out NASA’s Spot the Station for sightings after the 17th of November.  You can also sign up to Alerts, which will give you notifications for the more prominent sightings.