Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Ellensburg sky for the week of 11/7/09

Saturday: The North Taurid meteor shower peaks for the next few late nights and early mornings with the night of the 12th being the peak of the peak. This is not a prominent shower but it occasionally produces a couple of bright “fireballs”. Meteor showers are named after the constellation from which the meteors appear to originate. These meteors appear to come from a point in Taurus the bull. This point is about six fists held upright and at arm’s length above the southeast horizon at 11 p.m. You can follow this point throughout the night as it will remain midway between the bright star Aldebaran (pronounced Al-deb’-a-ran) and the open star cluster, the Pleiades. If you miss the peak tonight, don’t worry. Taurid meteor showers result in a slight increase on meteor activity from mid-October to the beginning of December.

Sunday: The bees are buzzing around both the Moon and Mars tonight. Mars is a half a fist above the Moon at 11:30 p.m. The open star cluster called the Beehive Cluster is about a finger’s width to the right of the Moon. Keep your eye on this part of the sky for the next few nights. The Moon will move eastward, away from Mars and the Beehive Cluster. That means the cluster will much easier to find in the sky and see in detail with binoculars.

Monday: Did you look up Antonia Maury and Edward Pickering based on last week’s Halloween costume suggestion? Antonia Maury developed one of the first comprehensive methods of classifying stars. Edward Pickering was director of the Harvard College Observatory from 1877 until his death in 1919. He recruited many women, including Antonia Maury, to work at the observatory where they made significant contributions to astronomy. They make much better, and more realistic, heroes than rock stars, actors and super models.

Tuesday: Jupiter is two and a half fists above due south at 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday: We wish you a Merry Martinmas. We wish you a Merry Martinmas. We wish you a Merry Martinmas. And a happy Wednesday. Martinmas is a holiday in many parts of the world commemorating Saint Martin of Tours. He was buried on November 11, 397. What does this have to astronomy? Not much except that the celebration on November 11 often doubles as a cross-quarter day celebration, a day that is halfway between an equinox and a solstice.

Thursday: Saturn is about one fist to the upper left of the Moon at 6:30 a.m.

Friday: The constellation Lepus the hare is right under the feet of Orion. At 11 p.m., the middle of the hare is one fist above the southeast horizon. Rigel, the brightest star in the constellation Orion, is just above the head of the hare.

The positional information in this column about stars and planets is typically accurate for the entire week.

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