Scheduled time for Public Observing: 8pm – 10pm
Please note the time change, Daylight Saving Time ended November 4.
Solar System Objects:
The Moon: will be 38° high in the SE at 9pm, and 72% illuminated (Waxing Gibbous phase, 10 days old).
Image (c) Virtual Moon Atlas / http://ap-i.net/avl/en/start
The prominent craters Copernicus (59 miles in diameter) and Tycho (52 miles) are shown below, as seen in an 8-inch telescope:
The lunar Carpathian Mountains above Copernicus are up to 7300 feet tall.
Planets: at 8pm, Mars will be 31° high in the SW, but will only appear 10 arc seconds in diameter, less than half the size it was in August. Neptune will be close to the Moon, 34° up in the SW. At 9pm, Uranus will be 57° high in the SE, in good position for viewing.
Different seasons offer different types of deep-sky objects for viewing, in the Fall we’re seeing a part of the galaxy where Open Clusters are numerous, although other objects are still visible.
The Perseus Double Cluster is a great example. Both clusters will fit into the field of view of a telescope using low power, covering an area a little larger than the full moon. In a dark sky, it is quite easily visible to the naked eye as a hazy patch between Perseus and Cassiopeia, and can be spectacular even in binoculars. They are 7,000 light-years from Earth.
Another famous example is the Pleiades, aka M45, Seven Sisters, and Subaru. Yes, the automaker used the name and stylized the cluster to use in their logo. Easily visible to the naked eye at only 400 light years away, it’s best seen in binoculars or at very low power in a telescope.
The largest, brightest, and most easily visible galaxy in the Northern Sky is nearly straight overhead tonight. M31, the Andromeda Galaxy, is 2.5 million light years away. In a pristine dark sky, it’s full extent is at least 3 degrees (6 times the width of the full moon), best seen in large binoculars. From Middletown, only the central core is visible in a telescope, as in the image below made with a club member’s scope and video camera.
There is still some disagreement over which is larger, the Milky Way or Andromeda, because each has some different characteristics. We’ll determine the winner in 5 billion years, when the two galaxies are due to collide.
For an incomparably better view, see this image on Rob Gendler’s website (ASGH member).
The Blue Snowball (NGC 7662) is a good example and is still visible this time of year.
Double and Colored Stars:
International Space Station (ISS): The ISS will not be visible tonight.
Iridium Satellites: These satellites can produce bright flares (brighter than Venus) from their antenna arrays. *Update*: no flares are predicted for this evening.