Mercury and Mars can be found in the western sky at sunset. Saturn returns to the early morning sky this month, joining Jupiter and Venus.
Now is your chance to catch a glimpse of the Andromeda galaxy. It lies 2.5 million light years away and is the most distant object you can see without a telescope.
Partial Solar Eclipse
Here in Melbourne on the morning of the 14th November, a partial eclipse will occur with 52% of the Sun’s diameter covered by the Moon. A good view of the eastern horizon will be needed as the Sun will be quite low. The timing of the eclipse for Melbourne is:
Far north Queensland and the topmost of the Northern Territory will experience totality, where the Moon will completely block the Sun for just on two minutes. The last Total Solar Eclipse for Melbourne was back in 1976. The next Total Solar Eclipse for Victoria will be on 26 December 2038.
Remember it is not safe to look directly at the Sun, even during an eclipse. Appropriate ways of watching the eclipse can be found on Museum Victoria's blog.
Sunrise & Sunset Times
The Moon will be at perigee (closest to Earth) on Wednesday 14th at a distance of 357,360 km.
The Moon will be at apogee (furthest from Earth) on Thursday 29th at a distance of 406,364 km.
Let the Moon be Your Guide
The Moon can be used as a pointer to find other objects in the sky.
- During the early hours of the 1st, the waning gibbous Moon is near the star cluster Pleiades (Taurus).
- On the morning of the 2nd, the Moon is near Jupiter and Aldebaran (Taurus).
- On the 9th the waning crescent Moon is near Regulus (Leo).
- Just before sunrise on the 12th the thin crescent Moon sits above Venus and Spica (Virgo).
- On the 14th the New Moon meets up with the Sun, creating a solar eclipse.
- After sunset on the 16th the waxing crescent Moon is near Mars.
- On the 29th, the Full Moon rises around 9pm with Jupiter sitting just above.
Mercury is low to the western horizon after sunset. It sits among the three stars that make up the claws of Scorpius. The red star Antares and the red planet Mars can be found above Mercury. By the middle of the month, Mercury will disappear into the glow of twilight.
Venus is low to the east just before sunrise. On the 11th it is joined by the thin crescent Moon and the star Spica (Virgo). By the 28th, Saturn has become a morning object and sits directly to the left of Venus.
Mars sits to the right of Scorpius at the start of the month, and near to the red supergiant star Antares. On the 16th the thin crescent Moon sits just below Mars.
Jupiter can be found rising in the north-east with Taurus and Orion late in the evening. By early morning, it has made its way to the north-west. On the evening of the 29th the Full Moon sits just below Jupiter.
Saturn rises out of the morning twilight by the middle of the month. It can be found low to the eastern horizon and sits side-by-side with Venus on the 28th.
Stars & Constellations
Scorpius and Sagittarius are low in the south-west after sunset and will gradually disappear into the twilight. They make way for the summer constellations of Taurus, the bull and Orion, the hunter that are rising in the east.
The Southern Cross is now upside down with the Two Pointers to the right and the bright star Canopus to the left.
In the north, it's possible to see the most distant object visible to the unaided eye, the Andromeda Galaxy. From dark country skies this magnificent spiral galaxy can be seen as a faint smudge just above the northern horizon, sitting below and to the right of the square of Pegasus.
International Space Station
The ISS orbits the Earth every 90 minutes at an average distance of 400 km. From Earth, the ISS appears as a bright star that steadily moves across the sky. It can often be seen from Melbourne, for example at:
9:21pm - 9:27pm, Wednesday 7th November.
The Station will first appear in the north-west and travel directly overhead passing the bright star Fomalhaut before disappearing in the south-east.
Predictions of when to see the ISS can be obtained from the Heaven's Above website.
On this Day
1st 1977, Chiron, an unusal object in orbit between Saturn and Uranus that is classified as both a comet and an asteroid, is discovered.
2nd 2000, William Shepard (USA), Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko (USSR) became the first residents of the ISS.
3rd 1957, Laika (the dog) became the first animal in space onboard Sputnik 2 (USSR).
7th 1631, A transit of Mercury is observed for the first time by Pierre Gassendi.
11th 1572, Tycho Brahe observed a supernova and showed that it is amongst the stars, proving that the heavens can change.
12th 1981, Columbia (USA) became the first spacecraft to be flown twice.
13th 1971, Mariner 9 (USA) became the first spacecraft to orbit another planet - Mars.
16th 1974, the first intentional interstellar radio message was sent into space from the Arecibo Observatory towards the M13 star cluster, 25 000 light years away (USA/Puerto Rico).
18th 1989, COBE (USA/ESA) the satellite that discovered the remnants of the 'Big Bang' was launched.
21st 1783, J. de Rozier (France) made the first manned balloon flight.
26th 1965, France became the third nation to launch a satellite.
27th 1971, Mars 2's probe (USSR) became the first craft to impact Mars.
28th 1967, Jocelyn Bell (UK) discovered the first known pulsar, initially named LGM1 for "little green men".
29th 1961, Enos' became the first chimpanzee in space onboard Mercury 5 (USA).
29th 1967, Australia became the fourth country to lauch a satellite with WRESAT-1.
30th 1609, Galileo Galilei studied the Moon with a telescope for the first time.
30th 1954, Elizabeth Hodges (USA) is hit by a 5kg meteorite in Alabama, one of the few documented instances of such an incident.