Skywatch Line for Wednesday November 11th and Thursday November 12th, 2020

This is the Dudley Observatory Skywatch Line for Wednesday, November 11th, and Thursday, November 12th, written by Louis Suarato.

The 15% illuminated, waning crescent Moon sets at 3:04 p.m., Wednesday. Look for Mars in Pisces high over the east-southeastern horizon and Saturn and Jupiter in Sagittarius over the south-southwestern horizon at twilight. Venus rises at 3:57 Thursday morning in the constellation Virgo, joining the 11% illuminated, crescent Moon 7 degrees above it. Virgo’s brightest star, Spica, will be 6 degrees directly below Venus. Mercury rises around 5:30 a.m., adding to the beauty of bright -4 magnitude Venus, Spica, and the crescent Moon within a 12.5 degree span.

Thursday morning also brings the peak of the Northern Taurids meteor shower. While the origination of the Taurid and Sothern Taurid meteor showers are believed to be the dust from the Comet 2P/Encke, The source of the Northern Taurids is believe to derive from Asteroid . Comet Encke is a periodic comet that competes one orbit around the Sun once every 3.3 years. This is the shortest orbit of any bright comet. Comet Enke was first recorded by Pierre Mechain on January 17, 1786. Johann Franz Encke was the first to calculate it as a periodic comet in 1819. Encke is known for slow moving meteors, and bright fireballs. Look to the south of the Pleiades star cluster for the radiant of this meteor shower. You can expect to see 10 to 15 meteors per our from late Wednesday night into Thursday morning.

Comet C/2020 M3 (ATLAS) remains the brightest comet in the sky at the magnitude of 7.7. Comet ATLAS is still observable in the constellation Orion, moving east of Rigel toward the star Bellatrix. The constellation Orion should be high enough in the sky after 11:30 p.m. for you to observe Comet ATLAS with binoculars. Comet ATLAS is on a 139 year orbit around the Sun. The comet will reach its closest approach to Earth on November 14 at 0.0358 astronomical units, or 3,327,817 miles.

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