This is the Dudley Observatory Skywatch Line for Wednesday, November 11th and Thursday, November 12th written by Louis Suarato
The New Moon occurs Wednesday at 12:48 p.m., leaving the skies dark for optimal viewing of the peak of the North Taurid meteor shower Wednesday and Thursday nights. Although this is peak time for the North Taurid meteor shower, two great Leonid meteor showers took place on November 12th. In 1799, Andrew Ellicott wrote the first known record of a meteor shower when he documented his observations from a ship off the coast of the Florida Keys. Ellicott wrote, “In every instant the meteors were as numerous as the stars,” and that the “whole heaven appeared as if illuminated with sky rockets, flying in an infinity of directions, and I was in constant expectation of some of them falling on the vessel. They continued until put out by the light of the sun after day break.” What was amazing about Ellicott’s observation, was that it occurred during a Full Moon!
Another great Leonid shower was recorded on November 12, 1833. Observational estimates of this meteor shower range from 100,000 meteors per hour to 240,000 meteors over its nine hour duration. The Taurids have been known for its fireballs, and some have been reported prior to the writing of this Skywatch Line. The Taurids normally have about 7 to 10 meteors per hour and seem to have a peak of fireballs every 7 years, and 2015 falls into that cycle. The radiant of the Taurids is near the Pleiades star cluster, but they can been seen throughout the sky. Although the constellation Taurus is above the eastern horizon after 8 p.m., the best time to view this shower is between midnight and dawn.
While lying back watching for meteors and fireballs, you’ll be able to view the parade of planets as they rise in the east. Jupiter rises first around 1:30 a.m. below the constellation Leo. Mars follows Jupiter about an hour later in the constellation Virgo. Twenty minutes later, Venus adds her brilliance to the eastern horizon.
On Friday, November 13th, beginning at 6 p.m., Dudley Observatory Outreach Astronomer, Dr. Valerie Rapson will give a lecture on “Mars – The Wet Red Planet”, at miSci in Schenectady, NY. A star party will follow the lecture, weather permitting. The Albany Area Amateur Astronomers will also be hosting a star party on Friday at Grafton Lake State Park. The star party will be rescheduled to Saturday if Friday’s event is cancelled.