This is the Dudley Observatory Skywatch Line for Wednesday, November 20th, and Thursday, November 21st, written by Louis Suarato.
The 40% illuminated, waning crescent Moon sets at 1:39 p.m. Wednesday. Look over the southwest horizon after sunset to see Venus and Jupiter 5 degrees apart. Venus is the lower, and brighter of the two planets. Thursday night, the two planets will be separated by three degrees. Further south, and higher, you’ll find Saturn about 20 degrees above the south-southwestern horizon. It’s been a week since Mercury’s transit across the Sun, and the innermost planet joins the crescent Moon and Mars in the pre-dawn sky. The Moon and two planets join Virgo’s brightest star, Spica, to form an arc sweeping down to the south-southeastern horizon. Mercury rises at 5:21 a.m., Thursday.
Usually, the Monocerid Meteor Shower hasn’t been worth getting out to view. The radiant, in the constellation Monoceros, doesn’t rise very high over our region, and typically there aren’t many meteors per hour. This year may be worth the time to travel to a dark location with a clear east to south horizon to view this meteor shower though. The origin of the Monocerids is not known, but some think the dust particles left in the path of Earth’s orbit around the Sun were shed from a 500 year long-period comet. Scientists who have tracked this meteor shower have recorded periodic outbursts, including those in 1925 and 1935, when activity reached more than 1,000 meteors per hour. In 1985, there were about 700 meteors per hour, and in 1995, there were abut 400 per hour at its peak. Scientists are predicting another outburst this year. Historically, the peak activity has only lasted 15 to 40 minutes. This peak is expected to begin Thursday night at 11:15 local time. The constellation Monoceros rises about 10 p.m.. Look for the radiant of the meteor shower below the star Procyon, above the east-southeastern horizon.
This Thursday, beginning at 7:30 p.m., at miSci in Schenectady, the Albany Area Amateur Astronomers will be holding their monthly meeting. This month;s speaker is Dr. James Johnson, whose topic will be “Do We Live in a Multiverse?”. This month’s discussion is based on scientists in the mid-1900’s developing principles that suggest the possibilities of a multiverse. Dr. James received his B.S. in Physics from the University of Texas at Dallas, graduating Magna cum Laude. Dr. James received his Ph.D. at TD in 1994. Non-member are welcome to attend.