Friday, November 8, 2013

The Ellensburg sky for the week of 11/9/13

Today: The Northern Taurid meteor shower peaks this weekend. You’ll want to stay up late to see the most meteors because the waxing crescent moon doesn’t set until about midnight so the late night sky will be moon-free. Under the best conditions, you can expect about 10 meteors an hour with some of them being bright fireballs. A few weeks ago, the related Southern Taurid meteor shower produced many fireball sightings in the southwest United States. 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, near the open star cluster called the Pleiades. 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 one fist the V-shaped Hyades Cluster with its bright star Aldebaran (pronounced Al-deb’-a-ran). Meteors are tiny rocks that burn up in the atmosphere when the Earth runs into them. These rocks are broken off parts of Comet 2P/Encke.

Sunday: “I’m a little teapot short and stout. All this week, Venus is on my spout.” All this week, the bright planet Venus is on the spout of the teapot-shaped asterism Sagittarius. It is one fist above the south-southwest horizon at 5 p.m.

Monday: We wish you a Merry Martinmas. We wish you a Merry Martinmas. We wish you a Merry Martinmas. And a happy Monday. 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.

Tuesday: Jupiter is one and a half fists above the east-northeast horizon at 10 p.m.

Wednesday: Imagine Opie and Andy Taylor walking down the dirt path at night to that fishing hole in the sky. They’d probably be looking to catch Pisces, the two fish already conveniently tied together with two ropes. The ropes are connected at the star Alrescha, Arabic for “the cord”. Alrescha is four and a half fists above due south at 10:30 p.m. The fish are attached to lines of stars that branch out at one o’clock and three o’clock from Alrescha. By the way, “The Fishing Hole”, The Andy Griffith Show’s theme song, was rated the 20th best TV theme song of all time by That’s too low of a rating in my opinion.

Thursday: Have you even seen a Black Hole? Neither have scientists. But they have seen the effects of a Black Hole. Black holes have a strong gravitational influence on anything that passes close to them, including light. Cygnus X-1, the first Black Hole candidate ever discovered, is six fists above the west horizon at 7 p.m., in the middle of the neck of Cygnus the swan. NASA launched the Chandra X-ray observatory in 1999 to study black hole candidates and other high energy events.

Friday: I am guessing that some of you don’t like the line of reasoning from Thursday: that seeing the effects of a Black Hole is good enough to claim there are Black Holes. You have never seen the wind. But, you have seen the effects of the wind. And no Ellensburg resident doubts the existence of the wind.

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

No comments: