This is the Dudley Observatory Skywatch Line for Wednesday, November 6th, and Thursday, November 7th, written by Louis Suarato.
The 72% illuminated, waxing gibbous Moon rises at 2:31 p.m. Wednesday, and remains in the sky until 1:25 a.m. Thursday. As the sky darkens, you’ll see the Moon is among the stars of the constellation Aquarius. Aquarius is the tenth largest constellation, and is most prominent in the late evening from July through November. The ancient Egyptians associated this constellation with water because the Sun was in Aquarius at the beginning of their rainy season. It is also associated with the beginning of the Great Flood. Aquarius occupies a large portion of the autumn sky, but its faint stars make it difficult to trace. The brightest star in the constellation is 2.9 magnitude Beta Aquarii, also known as Sadalsud, which, in Arabic, means Luckiest of the Lucky. This yellow supergiant star is approximately 540 light-years away from our solar system, estimated to be 60 million years old, and about the same temperature as our Sun. Yellow supergiant stars are rare, but Aquarius has two shining side by side. Alpha Aquarii, or Sadalmelik, is the other yellow supergiant star in Aquarius. Yellow supergiant stars are rare because they are in a brief transition from blue to red in the life cycle of a star. M2 is the only Messier object within the constellation Aquarius. This large globular cluster was discovered by Jean-Dominique Miraldi in 1746. M2 shines at magnitude 6.3, and under good conditions, can be seen through binoculars. M2 is about 13 billion years old, making it one of the oldest globular clusters. It contains approximately 150,000 stars. Look for M2 about 12 degrees to the west of the star Sadalmelik.
Thursday morning features a bright -3.3 magnitude International Space Station pass over our region. The ISS will emerge at 5:58 a.m. from the northwestern horizon, then continues on past the Double Cluster. The ISS will pass over Polaris, the North Star, before sailing through the Big Dipper. The Space Station continues on toward sunrise on the southeastern horizon, passing Mars on the way.