The sky this week from November 18 to 25
Wednesday, November 23
The New Moon occurs at 5:57 p.m. EST, giving us dark skies throughout the night.
The Andromeda Galaxy (M31) is a centerpiece of the night sky. At this time of year it is already high in the east by mid-evening and on cold, clear nights can be visible to the naked eye if your viewing site is free of light pollution. It is one of the most distant objects you can see with the naked eye, rivaled only by the Triangle Galaxy (M33), which only the sharpest eyes can pick up from the most dark.
You can find Andromeda just below 1.5° west of magnitude 4.5 Nu (ν) Andromedae. The large spiral galaxy extends about 3° in the sky, the width of three Full Moons! However, you might not see it quite to that extent, simply because its periphery is darker than its central regions (the bulge). With a telescope, it will largely look like a faint, fuzzy, white-gray patch of light, brighter in the center. With a telescope of 4 inches or larger, you’ll start to notice differences in how the galaxy’s light fades as you look farther from the center, thanks to its orientation as well as a dark dust lane blocking a part of its starlight.
Andromeda is the nearest large spiral to ours and the largest galaxy in our local group. It’s also heading for a collision with the Milky Way in several billion years – although thankfully very few stars will. Actually collide as the two galaxies merge into a larger structure that astronomers call Milkomeda.
Sunset: 4:38 p.m.
Moon setting: 4:23 p.m.
Moon phase: New
Thursday, November 24
The mighty planet Jupiter is stationary today at 8:00 a.m. EST. Located in southern Pisces, the gas giant retrogrades relative to background stars; after today it will start moving eastward again. You can find the magnitude -2.6 world in the southeast as soon as it gets dark after sunset, hanging below the Circlet asterism of Pisces.
It’s a planet you’ll want to study with a telescope. Early in the evening, you might see Io crossing the face of the gas giant, starting around 6:30 p.m. EST (in the dark for those on the East Coast and at dusk for those in the Midwest). Around 7:50 p.m. EST, the moon’s shadow joins it, reaching about halfway through the disk as Io leaves limbus just before 8:50 p.m. EST. The shadow finally eclipses around 10 p.m. EST.
Meanwhile, Jupiter’s bands of colorful clouds are beautiful to watch, as its disk extends about 44 inches across the sky. Also look for its Great Red Spot, which should appear at 11 PM EST, being carried rapidly across the face of the planet by the World Rapid. turnover rate.
Asteroid 2 Pallas is also stationary at 8:00 a.m. EST. It is located near the tail of Canis Major, the larger of Orion’s two hounds. We will visit it tomorrow morning when the constellation is at its highest.
Sunrise: 6:55 a.m.
Sunset: 4:38 p.m.
Moon setting: 5:08 p.m.
Moon phase: Wax Crescent (1%)
Friday, November 25
Although Canis Major rises before midnight, it takes a while to get out of the turbulent air near the horizon. In the few hours before sunrise, you will find this faithful dog southeast of Orion and hovering over the southern horizon. Pallas, which shines at magnitude 8, is just 2.5° southeast of the magnitude 1.8 Delta Canis Majoris, also called Wezen. You can catch the main belt world with binoculars or a small scope.
The second asteroid ever discovered, Pallas is the third largest body in the main belt and takes just over four and a half years to orbit the Sun. Over the next month, Pallas will continue to move away from the tail of Canis Major, making a slow arc towards its hind legs and ending in December near Kappa (κ) Canis Majoris.
The Moon reaches perigee, the closest point in its orbit to Earth, at 8:31 p.m. EST. It will then sit at 225,450 miles (362,827 kilometers).
Sunset: 4:37 p.m.
Moon setting: 6:04 p.m.
Moon phase: Wax Crescent (5%)