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This Week’s Sky: November 23 – 30

The Moon eclipses the brightest star in Taurus.

Seronik-Gibbous Moon rise 2284

The Moon is a waxing gibbous as the week begins. Courtesy Gary Seronik

All Week

The view facing southeast just before the start of astronomical twilight.

The view facing southeast on November 26, just before the start of astronomical twilight.

The morning sky is home to three bright planets. First to rise is –1.9-magnitude Jupiter, which clears the eastern horizon at 1 a.m., local standard time. Next is the faintest of the trio, Mars, which shines at magnitude 1.6. It’s up just a little after 2:30 a.m. Last, but certainly not least, is brilliant Venus. It gleams at magnitude –4.3 and rises at 3:35 a.m. Completing the lovely scene are the first-magnitude stars Regulus and Spica, which bracket the planetary grouping. Plenty of good reasons to be up early!

November 25

Today the Moon is full at 5:44 p.m., EST. It rises roughly 45-minutes before then, as seen from Toronto.

November 26

Moon and Aldebaran

The Moon moments before it occults Aldebaran, as seen in a small telescope at low power.

This morning the Moon passes through the Hyades cluster in Taurus and occults Aldebaran, the constellation’s brightest star. You can see this event well in a small telescope or binoculars. What time the eclipse happens depends on where you are. In Montreal, the Moon covers the star from 6:05 a.m. until 6:30 a.m., EST; in Toronto from 6:06 to 6:31 a.m., EST; Winnipeg: 4:22 to 5:19 a.m, CST; Regina: 4:15 to 5:14 a.m., CST; Calgary: 3:04 to 4:05 a.m., MST; and Vancouver: 1:56 to 2:54 a.m., PST. Be sure to start viewing a little before the predicted times so you don’t miss it.

November 29

Venus and Spica

Venus and Spica at their closest.

This morning the planet Venus and Spica, the brightest star in Virgo, are at their closest and lie a little more than 4 degrees apart. Both fit into the same binocular field of view.

November 30

Today Saturn is in conjunction with the Sun, marking the end of the current apparition and the start of the next. The ringed planet will re-emerge in the morning sky in late December.

Weekend Stargazer

Seronik-Mare Crisium

Use this photograph to guide your exploration of Mare Crisium this weekend. Courtesy Gary Seronik

On the November 27 – 29 weekend the Moon is just a little past full, and that presents a fine opportunity to watch the Sun set on Mare Crisium. Crisium is an impact basin — basically a super-sized crater — whose lava-flooded interior (Mare Crisium) measures some 570-kilometres across. Under high-Sun illumination, Mare Crisium appears nearly featureless. However, continue watching over the weekend as the terminator approaches the mare’s western shore (remember that east and west on the Moon are opposite sky directions).

On Saturday night in particular, you can see subtle undulations and wrinkles on Crisium’s floor. The most obvious is a wrinkle near the mare’s eastern edge, marking a submerged inner basin ring. Also visible are a pair of barely there craters: Yerkes and Lick. Yerkes is a 36-km-wide remnant whose floor was flooded with lavas billions of years ago. The same is true for 31-km-wide Lick, which is south of Yerkes and just inside the western rim of Crisium. A small telescope used at moderate magnification will let you see all these features in the “Sea of Crises.”

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Categories: This Week's Sky

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