There is plenty going on in the night sky to keep amateur astronomers busy the next few weeks. First off, we have several meteor showers going on through the month of November.
The Taurids Meteor Shower is a long-running shower that runs all month long, but peaks during the first couple weeks. It’s a minor shower in that it only produces around five to 10 meteors per hour. The meteors will seem to originate from the constellation Taurus but can appear anywhere in the night sky.
The Leonids Meteor Shower -- an average shower producing up to 15 meteors per hour -- will be peaking the night of November 17. A new moon will help keep the sky dark enough to see most of these. What’s most interesting about this shower is that is has a cyclonic peak about every 33 years. So, every 33 years, the sky lights up with hundreds of meteors per hour. The last time this happened was back in 2001, so it probably won’t happen again until the early 2030s.
There are plenty of planets visible during the month of November:
Mercury – very dim, found on the low horizon in the western evening sky
Venus – brightest thing in the night sky (besides the moon), seen in the eastern pre-dawn sky
Mars – dim, reddish color, look to the east just before dawn
Jupiter – another bright planet, seen in the pre-dawn night sky
Saturn – visible to the southwest in the evening just after sundown
An interesting event happens on Monday, November 13 -- the conjunction of Venus and Jupiter. The two planets will appear extremely close -- only 0.3 degrees apart. Basically, if you stretch out your hand, you’ll be able to fit both planets behind your pinky. It’s also cool because these are the two brightest planets in the sky. Look to the east just before dawn, and you can’t miss it.
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