We finally had a clear dark windless evening for me to take out my telescope, and what a wonderful evening it was. We viewed three planets, four constellations and 12 nebula and star clusters.
Saturn was amazing. If you haven’t looked at it with a telescope or binoculars yet, you need to do it this month while it’s still visible. The Hunter’s Full Moon is on the 4th, so you’ll have to wait a few days after that. Also daylight savings time ends on the 5th, so you can go out earlier to see it.
It currently sets two and one-half hours after sunset, but by the end of this month will set one hour after sunset. It was so amazing to look at because since it’s currently tipper over so far, the rings are highly visible. So look for the bright star sitting low in the SW, and then look at it with binoculars or a telescope.
The nebula and globular clusters we saw are also visible with unaided vision, but look so much better with binoculars. Most of the ones we observed are in and around the Milky Way’s center in the SW to the left of Saturn. So start low in the sky and work your way up along the Milky Way. It’s filled with treasures.
Of course we also viewed the Andromeda galaxy, our closest spiral galaxy. From here it looks like a huge hazy patch in the sky about the size of a full moon. Once you find it with binoculars, you’ll be able to see it unaided. But your eyes will have to be out of light for at least 15 minutes to adapt to the darkness. It’s always amazing how many more stars you can see once that happens.
To find it, first look for Cassiopeia at least half way up in the NE. The upper W bottom points over to Andromeda slightly to the lower right about 3 fists away. Andromeda is 2.5 million light years from us, but is moving in on us. In 3-4 billion years we will collide and become a giant galaxy. It will take 100 million years after the collision for the two galaxies to bind together, so we don’t have to worry.
We weren’t able to look for Comet C/2017 01 because we went out early and it was still below our mountains. I think we’ll try again. It’s working its way to Polaris the North Star, and should reach it early in December. Now that it’s November, it’s beginning to fade and may or may not be visible any longer. You never know with comets as to how long they’ll remain visible.
Another meteor shower is occurring now. These are the Taurids and are visible high in the east in the evening. This occurs for several weeks, but only has about five per hour. The good thing is that they’re very bright and slow moving. Sometimes they’re long and dazzling enough that people call the police to report a burning airplane falling out of the sky. So be sure to look for them a few evenings after the full moon.