Every week, SkyNews publishes a list of key events in the Canadian sky in This Week’s Sky. This series gives you all the latest news in Solar System movements, including where the planets are in our sky and Moon phases. From eclipses to meteor showers, This Week’s Sky keeps you updated on the best in upcoming astronomical highlights.
Monday, November 21 – The Double Cluster (all night)
The northeastern sky, on mid-November evenings, hosts the bright constellations of Perseus and W-shaped Cassiopeia, with the bright star Capella positioned below them. The sky between Perseus and Cassiopeia hosts the Double Cluster, a pair of bright open star clusters that together cover a finger’s width of the sky. They make a spectacular sight in binoculars or telescopes at low magnification.
The higher (more westerly) cluster, designated NGC 869, is dense and contains more than 200 white and blue-white stars. The lower (easterly) cluster NGC 884 is looser and hosts a handful of magnitude 8 golden stars. The clusters formed in the same part of the Perseus Arm of the Milky Way. They are about 7,300 light-years away from us. Their region of the sky is heavily contaminated by opaque interstellar dust that has diminished the clusters’ intensity.
Wednesday, November 23 – New Moon (at 22:57 GMT)
The Moon will reach its new phase on Wednesday, November 23 at 5:57 p.m. EST, 2:57 p.m. PST, or 22:57 GMT. At that time our natural satellite will be located in Scorpius, 2.3 degrees south of the Sun. While new, the Moon is travelling between Earth and the Sun. Since sunlight can only reach the far side of the Moon, and the Moon is in the same region of the sky as the Sun, the Moon becomes unobservable from anywhere on Earth for about a day (except during a solar eclipse). On the evenings following the new Moon phase, Earth’s planetary partner will return to shine in the western sky after sunset.
Thursday, November 24 – Spotted Jupiter completes a retrograde loop (7:45 to 9:54 p.m. EST)
On Thursday, November 24, Jupiter will cease its motion through the distant stars of western Pisces, marking the end of a westward retrograde loop that began in late July. Meanwhile, from 7:45 p.m. to 9:54 p.m. EST (or 00:45 to 02:54 GMT on Wednesday, November 25), observers with telescopes in the Americas can watch the small, round, and black shadow of the Galilean moon cross Jupiter’s disk.
Thursday, November 24 – Asteroid Pallas changes course (overnight)
On Thursday, November 24, the main belt asteroid designated (2) Pallas will cease its eastward motion through the stars of Canis Major, and commence a westerly retrograde loop that will last until February, 2023. On the night of November 24, the magnitude 8.2 minor planet will rise in late evening and remain visible all night long in a backyard telescope (green circle), positioned close to the midpoint between the big dog’s two bright tail stars Aludra and Wezen.
Chris Vaughan is a science writer, geophysicist, astronomer, planetary scientist and an “outreach RASCal.” He writes Astronomy Skylights, and you can follow him on Twitter at @astrogeoguy. He can also bring his Digital Starlab portable inflatable planetarium to your school or other daytime or evening event. Contact him through AstroGeo.ca to tour the Universe together.