This is Dudley Observatory’s Skywatch Line for Friday, November 2 through Sunday, November 4, written by Sam Salem.
On Friday, the Sun rises at 7:31am and sets at 5:47pm; the waning crescent Moon rises at 1:29am and sets at 3:33pm. Daylight-saving time ends on Sunday. Set your clocks back one hour at 2am.
If you have an unobstructed west-southwest horizon, you can still glimpse planet Jupiter, roughly 45 minutes after sunset. Jupiter shines at magnitude –1.7. Chances are you’ll need binoculars to view it in bright twilight. As darkness falls, 0.6 magnitude Saturn is already well past the meridian and sets roughly three hours after the Sun. Mars shines at magnitude –0.6 in the south after dark and culminates a little after 8pm. You can still glimpse the Martian surface with a telescope at high magnification. On Saturday, look barely 1degree east, or left, of Mars for star Delta Capricorni. Mars and Delta Capricorni will appear closer, only 0.6 degree apart, in the following two evenings. Try to spot Uranus at magnitude 5.7 with your naked eyes this weekend. Uranus sits near the border of Aries-Pisces constellations. It is easy to find with binoculars and a good finder chart.
This moon-free weekend is a good time to enjoy many of the same constellations that have been around for months. At nightfall, the Summer Triangle stars Vega, Altair, and Deneb are well positioned high in the southwest. Get out early to explore the Sagittarius Milky Way before it descends into the southwest horizon. Hercules and its magnificent globular cluster, M13, are visible halfway up the western sky. This extended celestial summer is a result of our northerly latitude. Although the constellations that dominated from June through August now set earlier, our nights are growing longer at the same time.
The annual South Taurid meteor shower has been going on throughout October. Now the North Taurids have started as well. The peaks of these showers aren’t well defined. Sunday and Monday nights both might feature a higher-than-average rate of South Taurid meteors. You might see as many as five meteors per hour. There is a possibility of fireballs, or very bright meteors. The moon is now in a waning crescent phase, rising shortly before sunrise. No moonlight to ruin the prime time viewing hours, around 12:30am. The other Taurid shower, the North Taurids, should add a few more meteors to the mix from late night until dawn. The Taurids appear to have a 7-year cycle of bright fireballs. The year 2015 was a peak year. The South Taurid meteors appear to radiate from the constellation Taurus, the Bull. You don’t have to identify a meteor shower’s radiant point to watch the meteor shower. Just look up in the hours between midnight and dawn. These meteors streak all over the sky. In addition, the constellation Taurus is full of interesting things to see such as the Pleiades star cluster, the V-shaped Hyades cluster with bright Aldebaran in its midst.