This is the Dudley Observatory Skywatch Line for Wednesday, November 18th and Thursday, November 19th written by Louis Suarato
The 46% illuminated, waxing crescent Moon will be 35 degrees above the southern horizon after sunset on Wednesday. The Moon will set before reaching its First Quarter phase at 1:28 a.m., rising again at 12:36 p.m. Thursday. Thursday night, use the Moon as a guide to locate Neptune. Neptune will be the bluish looking “star” just 3 degrees to the lower left of the Moon. Use binoculars or a telescope to find this outermost planet. The bright star below the Moon, and closer to the southern horizon, is the Fomalhaut, the brightest star in the constellation Piscis Austrinus. Fomalhaut shines at magnitude 1.15 and is thought to be one of 16 stars moving in a group. Other members of this group include the stars Castor and Vega. Approximately 15 degrees to the Moon’s upper right, is the globular cluster M2. Discovered by Jean-Dominique Maraldi in 1746, M2 is one of the largest globular clusters. M2 is about 37,500 light-years away and estimated to contain 150,000 stars. At the age of 13 billion years, M2 is one of the oldest globular clusters in the Milky Way galaxy.
The constellation Orion dominates the late night eastern to southeastern sky. The bright stars Pollux in Gemini, Procyon in Canis Major, and Sirius in Canis Major, follow Orion. At magnitude -1.15, Sirius is the brightest star in our sky. After the bright stars come the planets as Jupiter rises after 1 a.m., followed by Mars an hour later, and Venus two hours later.
The Dudley Observatory will be hosting an Octagonal Barn Lecture and Star Party this Friday, November 20th beginning at 7 p.m. in Delanson, NY. The lecture, “Exoplanets: Hidden in the Light”, will be given by Ben Placek, Ph.D. and Instructor of Physics at Schenectady Community College. Admission is free, but donations are graciously accepted. Directions to the Octagonal Barn can be found at http://dudleyobservatory.org/octagonbarn/.