Shorter days mean more to see in the North Country skies in November

The planets are the celebrities of the night and morning skies in November. Each month, Aileen O’Donoghue, physics and astronomy professor at St. Lawrence College, checks in with NCPR to information us by what to search for within the subsequent few weeks. 

Monica SandreczkiJupiter, Mercury are the celebrities of the present within the night time sky in November

She caught up with Todd Moe and Monica Sandreczki. This dialog has been flippantly edited for readability. 

An astronaut shot this waxing crescent from the Space Station over the southwestern Pacific Ocean. Photo: member of the Expedition 66 crew.

An astronaut shot this waxing crescent from the Area Station over the southwestern Pacific Ocean. Picture: member of the Expedition 66 crew.

TODD MOE: Let’s begin out and discuss in regards to the quantity of sunshine and darkish.

AILEEN O’DONOGHUE: I am loving the quantity of darkness. These of you who’re “darkish averse,” we have already had the newest dawn. That was the day earlier than we alter the clocks. So now, the earliest sunsets are coming in direction of us. They’re on December ninth and tenth. Then, the sundown will begin getting later and we’ll hold getting later all the best way till June. These of you who do not just like the darkish, you are nearly there.

The mornings, the times are nonetheless getting shorter till the December twenty first, however the dawn continues to be creeping later additionally. It is January 2, that we’ll have the newest dawn, but it surely will not be as late because it was on the day earlier than we alter the clock, so that you’re effective. Hold in there!

MOE: Are you saying that, slowly, the sunshine is returning?

O’DONOGHUE: Not all the sunshine for the entire day. We’re nonetheless getting shorter days till December twenty first. However within the night, it’s going to begin you understand, these of us who get very upset with how early it is fully darkish.

MONICA SANDRECZKI: Effectively, and naturally we all know that doesn’t upset you within the least! I used to be questioning have you ever been in a position to, with these earlier sunsets, get out to do some viewing?

O’DONOGHUE: No, it is cloudy. However it’s good to get house and have the ability to – when it’s a little bit clearer – to have the ability to pause and see all my buddies up there as a result of I do not see all of them summer time. 

SANDRECZKI: There’s a lot occurring within the night skies today, like hat waxing crescent.

O’DONOGHUE: It may be cruising previous Saturn. Saturn is hanging out in Aquarius; it is fairly vivid. It will cruise by Saturn on the twentieth. After which it’s going to proceed over to Jupiter that’s blazing over within the within the jap sky. The moon shall be there on the twenty fourth. And previous Jupiter is a planet that’s truly seen to the bare eye however barely is Uranus, or nevertheless you wish to say that title. (It is petitioning to turn into “Doug,” however good luck).

MOE & SANDRECZKI: (laughs)

O’DONOGHUE: Uranus was in opposition yesterday at about midday. Which means it was reverse the solar within the sky. Which means we’re on the identical facet of the cosmic racecourse, and we simply handed by Uranus. So, we’re as shut as we get. It is a good time to view it, but it surely’s arduous to seek out. It is not likely near something that is very exceptional. However Jupiter is creeping towards it, so subsequent April, it’s going to get near Uranus and it’ll give us an opportunity to find it with binoculars after which use our unaided eye and see if we will spot that final bare eye planet.

Photo of Jupiter taken from the Cassini mission in 2000.

Picture of Jupiter taken from the Cassini mission in 2000.

MOE: We had been speaking earlier about how, if you happen to discover Jupiter, you may sorta see Uranus out of the peripheral imaginative and prescient. 

O’DONOGHUE: When it will get just a little nearer! It is nonetheless just a little too distant for that. Mars is lurking behind the Solar; Mercury has popped again up into the night sky. Should you’re wanting over within the western sky proper after sundown – it units earlier than twilight, so it is fairly elusive, however you may see this factor. “Huh! I’m wondering if that is Mercury?” And it simply could also be. It will be highest and brightest within the first few days of December.

MOE: I used to be out strolling with a buddy the opposite day on a kind of uncommon sunny days and I form of observed the size of our shadows.

O’DONOGHUE: This time of 12 months and thru December – even at noon – it by no means appears like noon as a result of the solar is so low within the sky. On December 21, on the solstice, the solar solely will get about 21 and a half levels above the southern horizon. So it by no means appears like noon, due to that tilt of the Earth and we’re tilted away from the solar.

MOE: I assumed that was actually fascinating. That was round 12:30ish. And I am like, “wait a minute, I am seeing some prolonged shadows right here.”

O’DONOGHUE: That is the mark of winter, and the shadows will begin shortening. There are actual bodily adjustments.

SANDRECZKI: That is off matter, however Todd that may be very such as you. You discover visible issues very properly. That is the artist in you, I see that. However for the night skies, there’s additionally Mars.

O’DONOGHUE: Effectively, it is working behind the solar, so we’re not going to see Mars for fairly some time as a result of it formally passes on the far facet of the Solar on the 18th, but it surely’s so near the solar. With that, we’re on the far facet of the nice race monitor within the sky and we left Mars behind as a result of it strikes just a little slower. So, we’re coming across the far facet and we’re gonna begin catching again as much as Mars. However proper now, it is on the alternative facet of the Solar.

MOE: The Pleiades.

Pleiades star cluster. Photo: Roberto Colombari, courtesy of NASA

Pleiades star cluster. Picture: Roberto Colombari, courtesy of NASA

O’DONOGHUE: Oh! They’re again! Within the night! After which, that vivid factor you see rising within the northeast, that is Capella, and other people do not count on it. It is not a well-known star, but it surely’s actually fairly vivid Capella in Auriga. That is a pleasant one. However the Pleiades, individuals are so glad to see the Pleiades. My college students truly found them this time of 12 months. They’re like, “what’s that?” As a result of they principally have not been wanting on the sky very a lot of their lives. And now they’re in astronomy, they’re wanting on the sky. “What is that factor?” It’s totally thrilling.

MOE: So that is, just like the heralds of… 

O’DONOGHUE: Yeah, fairly quickly, you are gonna begin seeing Gemini and Orion, Taurus,  all our buddies shall be again in one other month or so. They’re going to be blazing away.

MOE: Effectively, I did see within the morning sky, each Venus and Jupiter.

O’DONOGHUE: Venus is so vivid within the morning. It is gonna be hanging out vivid within the morning, all winter, however you are going to lose Jupiter within the morning sky as a result of it is shifting. It is in each night and morning as a result of it is within the northern hemisphere. However yeah, it is simply all these glittery lights that transfer on a regular basis and that is what’s so thrilling is you retain monitor of them. We stay in a dynamic universe. It is not a snapshot that’s painted up on some dome. It is a dynamic universe that is all the time in movement. And we’re part of that movement. As we sit right here, we’re shifting 742 miles per hour to the east as we sit right here.

MOE: I all the time fall again on the expertise to assist me out. I’ve an app on my cellphone.

O’DONOGHUE: Apps are nice.

MOE: They’re a lot enjoyable to carry them as much as the night time skies. “Is {that a} planet? Oh sure!”

O’DONOGHUE: What’s good is to have a look at the bottom with them as a result of they present you the celebrities which can be underneath your ft.

MOE: That is what they’re seeing in Australia!

SANDRECZKI: So within the the night sky, we have the Pleiades. We have got Capella. We have got Mercury. We have got Jupiter and Saturn. Morning sky?


The northern hemisphere is displayed in this global view of the surface of Venus as seen by NASA Magellan spacecraft.

The northern hemisphere is displayed on this international view of the floor of Venus as seen by NASA Magellan spacecraft.

SANDRECZKI: Lovely Venus.

O’DONOGHUE: Venus, Venus, Venus. We get to rise up when it is darkish and we go away when it is darkish, so we get to see this stuff. You get to see these constellations. It is only a beautiful time of 12 months with the sky.


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