‘LOOK UP! WHAT’S IN THE NIGHT SKY’ GUEST COLUMNIST MICK GROSZKO
So what’s up for our viewing pleasure right now?
First of all, I hope you have been enjoying the morning show being put on by our three brightest planets. Jupiter, Venus and Mars can all be seen close together in the eastern sky before sunrise.
Venus is the can’t miss star of the show.
Other than the sun and moon it is the brightest object in the sky. Jupiter, the next brightest object, is close by. Mars is somewhat dimmer, but has its distinctive red color.
Jupiter and Venus are great binocular objects.
Orion the hunter, is rising in the east about ten o’clock and by midnight is high in the sky.
If you are just learning the night sky this is one of the easiest constellations to identify.
Below the belt of Orion you can see M42, the Orion nebula. It is beautiful through binoculars and even better through a telescope.
Coming up in the next week is the Leonid Meteor shower.
Leonid meteors are some of the brightest of any of the annual meteor showers.
This is because of their high velocity, 44 mile per second.
They will seem to radiate from a part of the constellation Leo the Lion that looks like a giant question mark.
To find this, start at Polaris, the north star, travel past the end of the cup in the big dipper on to Leo.
The point on the bottom of the question mark is the star Regulus. The Leonids occur when the Earth passes through the debris left by the comet Tempel-Tuttle.
The comet takes around 33 years to make one orbit around the Sun. You can begin seeing some of the Leonids now but they will peak on the night of November 17/18. The moon will be only 5 days old and setting rather early so this should be a good year to see this event. The best time will be between midnight and sunrise.
The Headlands Dark sky Park will be having a program “Arts Inspired by the Cosmos” on Saturday evening, November 14th in anticipation of the peak of the Leonid Meteor Shower. The program will take place both indoors and out, participants will look at the life and culture of Mssrs Temple and Tuttle when they discovered the comet that causes the Leonids, in the 1860.
Don’t forget the Northern Michigan Astronomy Club (NOMAC) meeting on Thursday, Nov. 12 at 7:30 at the North Central Michigan College Room HESC 311. Bryan Shumaker will be presenting “Basic Stellar Nucleogenesis – where the elements came from.
Mick Groszko is an amateur astronomer and astrophotographer in the Petoskey area and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org