Pictured here after maximum, the lunar eclipse January 31, 2018, was visible from Athabasca, Alberta. (Allendria Brunjes)
Replenish your coffee stocks, unbox your warm clothes and don’t forget to dust off the binoculars — this November, the night sky is filled with exceptional sights.
At the top of the list is a partial lunar eclipse on November 19, running from 1:02 a.m. to 7:03 a.m., reaching its peak at 4:02 a.m. At its maximum, Earth’s shadow will cover 97-per-cent of the Moon’s face, leaving an ever-so-slight sliver outside of Earth’s umbra.
Total lunar eclipses are also known as blood moons. The Sun’s light streams through the Earth’s atmosphere, which filters out most blue light and leaves our normally bright, white satellite rather rusty. This is a partial eclipse, but it’s so darned close to total you can expect to see the red tinge over almost the full face.
In the southern Georgian Bay region, the potential party pooper will be weather. November is historically a dismal, cloudy month, so consult forecasts before you choose a place to settle for the night.
During the eclipse, the Moon will be nicely situated in Taurus, the Bull. (For more on this constellation and its gorgeous clusters, check out last month’s copy of Georgian Life.)
Over the course of the month, Venus will start to move closer to Jupiter and Saturn, which have been passing through Capricornus. On November 7, the crescent Moon will sit about four degrees away from Venus, then march down the ecliptic to meet Saturn and Jupiter on November 10 and 11 respectively.
At the beginning of November, you’ll be able to see Mercury in the predawn sky before it moves too close to the sun to view. On November 10, Mars and Mercury pass within less than a degree of one another, but it will be a hard sight to catch with the rising sun at their heels.
As dreary November days pass by, you’ll start to see a familiar winter stalwart climbing into the sky: Orion.
The Hunter’s recognizable “belt” consists of three bright bluish stars, evenly-spaced in a straight line. You might also recall this constellation by its reddish shoulder star, Betelgeuse — usually pronounced “BET-el-juice.” In December 2019, this star got really dim, and some suggested that it might even go supernova. It didn’t, and so Orion retains its limbs.
If you look just below Orion’s belt, you’ll see the “sword.” It includes Messier 42, the Orion Nebula. This stellar nursery, a large cloud of gas and dust where stars are born, is about 1,300 light-years away. It’s a beautiful region of the sky that is visible all winter with the naked eye. Use binoculars or a telescope to see more detail.
SUBMITTED BY: ALLENDRIA BRUNJES, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF OF SKYNEWS, CANADA’S ASTRONOMY AND SPACE MAGAZINE