Astronomy: the skies over northern Essex throughout November
12:00 p.m. 5 November 2021
James Abbott from North Essex Astronomical Society on what we can see this month.
The last month of autumn brings a return to the short days with the sun setting at 4 p.m. GMT in the middle of the month.
In the early evening twilight after sunset looking down to the southwest, Venus will shine brightly. On November 8, the young Moon will be close to Venus.
Jupiter and Saturn are still visible in the evening. The Moon will pass under Saturn on November 10 and under Jupiter on November 11.
The Lucy mission to Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids was successfully launched on October 16.
Trojans orbit the Sun with Jupiter, and during a 12-year journey, Lucy will visit eight different asteroids. Trojans are the “building blocks” of the early history of our solar system.
The full moon is on November 19 with our constant companion in space radiating 60 degrees elevation at midnight.
The Taurid meteor shower peaks in the first half of November.
The constellation Taurus, where the meteors seem to come from, reached a good height in the eastern sky around 9 p.m.
The winter constellations can be seen in the late evening with Orion well to the southeast at 11pm.
The central star of the three of Orion’s belt is called Alnilam and it is one of the most powerful stars in our galaxy.
Although it is about 2,000 light years away, it is easily visible due to its extreme brightness estimated to be between 300,000 and 800,000 times that of our Sun.
Alnilam is a class of stars known as the “blue supergiant”. Unlike our Sun which lives for billions of years, supergiants only live for a few million years, burning their hydrogen fuel at a high rate and ending in a supernova explosion.
In their final stages, supergiants merge heavier elements which are then thrown into space when the star explodes.
These heavier elements include iron and so we have unknown stars that exploded billions of years ago to thank a metal here on Earth that is a vital part of our modern society.
Astronomy: the autumn equinox, Cassiopeia and the Perseus double cluster
Astronomy: taurid meteors and the large square of Pegasus