Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Ellensburg WA sky for the week of 11/4/17

Saturday: Before you fall back on to your bed tonight, set your clock back one hour to the real time. Daylight savings ends early Sunday morning at 2 a.m. This means one more hour of sky watching at night because the Sun will set one hour earlier. Ben Franklin proposed the idea of “saving daylight” by adjusting our clocks way back in 1784. Daylight savings time was first utilized during World War I as a way to save electricity. After the war, it was abandoned. It was reintroduced during World War II on a year-round basis. From 1945 to 1966, some areas implemented daylight savings and some did not. Also, it was not implemented with any uniformity as to when it should start and stop. The Uniform Time Act of 1966 codified the daylight savings rules.

Sunday: The bright star Aldebaran is about a finger-width to the upper right of the Moon at 7 p.m. Observers on the east coast of the United States will see the Moon occult Aldebaran, meaning the Moon will pass between Aldebaran and the Earth, blocking it from our view for about 30 minutes.

Monday: Saturn is less that one fist above due southwest at 6 p.m.

Tuesday: Did you look up Ruby Payne-Scott and Grote Reber based on last week’s Halloween costume suggestion? Ruby Payne-Scott was an Australian pioneer of science and the first female radio astronomer. She discovered many different types of stellar radio phenomena. She also discovered sexism in the workplace because married women were not allowed to hold permanent public service jobs. So she married in secret. Grote Reber created the first parabolic reflecting antenna to be used as a radio telescope. This is a standard design today.

Wednesday: Mars is two fists above the east-southeast horizon at 6 a.m. Venus is just barely above the east-southeast horizon at this time.

Thursday: While Stonehenge is an ancient burial ground visited by religious people for thousands of years, MIThenge is an 825-foot long hallway on the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology visited by the Sun’s rays twice a year.  Every year in November and January, the setting Sun lines up with a narrow window at the end of the long hall and the light shines down to the opposite end. This season’s alignment is from November 10-12. For more information, visit or visit MIT. In addition, challenge yourself to find a similar alignment.

Friday: The Northern Taurid meteor shower peaks tonight and tomorrow night. These are slow moving meteors that result in the occasional fireball. The Taurid meteor showers produce a few bright meteors every hour. The waning crescent Moon rises well after midnight so it won’t be much of a problem. These meteors appear to come from a point in Taurus the bull, near the open star cluster called the Pleiades. This point is about three fists above the east horizon at 8 p.m. You can follow this point throughout the night, as it will remain one fist above 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.

The positional information in this column about stars and planets is typically accurate for the entire week. For up to date information about the night sky, go to

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