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.
Tuesday, November 8 – Full Frost Moon total lunar eclipse (at 11:02 GMT)
The November full Moon, traditionally known as the Beaver Moon or Frost Moon, always shines in or near the stars of Taurus and Aries.
The Moon will reach its full phase, directly opposite the Sun in the northwestern pre-dawn sky, at 6:02 a.m. EST, 5:02 a.m. CST, or 11:02 GMT on Tuesday, November 8. At that time, the Moon will also be passing through Earth’s round shadow, or umbra, producing the second total lunar eclipse of 2022.
Lunar eclipses are perfectly safe to view with unaided eyes, binoculars, and telescopes. The entire eclipse will be visible across northwestern North America, the Pacific Ocean, and northeastern Asia. For the rest of North America, the Moon will set while it is fully eclipsed. This eclipse will not be visible from Africa or Europe.
The first “bite” out of the Moon will occur when it starts to enter Earth’s umbra at 3:09 a.m. CST or 09:09 GMT. The Moon will be fully eclipsed for about 86 minutes, shining with a deep red colour between 4:16 a.m. and 5:42 a.m. CST (or 10:16 to 11:42 GMT). Around maximum eclipse at 5:00 a.m. CST or 11:00 GMT, the Moon’s northern edge will be passing through the outer reaches of Earth’s umbra, causing the southern part of the Moon to be noticeably darker than the northern.
Around 12:00 GMT, observers in Asia, Alaska, and the Yukon can watch the partially-eclipsed moon occult the planet Uranus (exact times vary by location). The moon will completely escape Earth’s umbra at 6:49 a.m. CST or 11:49 GMT.
Wednesday, November 9 – Uranus at opposition (all night)
Uranus will reach opposition on Wednesday morning, November 9. At that time it will be closest to Earth for this year — a distance of 1.74 billion miles, 2.80 billion km, or 155 light-minutes.
Uranus’ slightly reduced distance from Earth will cause it to shine at a peak brightness of magnitude 5.64, but the recently full Moon shining a palm’s width to Uranus’ left (or celestial east) will make seeing it difficult. Since Uranus will appear slightly larger in telescopes for a week or so centered on opposition night, view it on a night when the Moon is not as close to it.
During autumn this year, look for Uranus’ small, blue-green dot moving slowly retrograde westwards in southeastern Aries, about 1.4 fist diameters to the right (or 14 degrees to the celestial south-southwest) of the Pleiades Star Cluster (Messier 45). Or, use binoculars (green circle) to locate Uranus using the nearby stars Botein and Epsilon Arietis.
Thursday, November 10 – Bright Moon approaches Mars (all night)
Starting around mid-evening on Thursday, November 10, the bright, waning gibbous Moon will be prominent in the lower part of the eastern sky, with the bright, reddish dot of Mars positioned a palm’s width to the Moon’s lower left.
As the duo crosses the night sky together, the Moon’s eastward orbital motion will carry it closer to Mars, allowing them to share the view in binoculars (green circle). Early risers on Friday can watch for the Moon and Mars shining in the western sky before dawn. By then, the diurnal rotation of the sky will have lifted Mars to the Moon’s upper left.
Saturday, November 12 – Northern Taurids meteor shower peak (pre-dawn and late evening)
The Northern Taurids meteor shower, which runs worldwide from October 20 to December 10 annually, will reach its maximum on Saturday afternoon, November 12 in the Americas.
Since meteors require a dark sky, the best viewing time for North American skywatchers will be off-peak — on Saturday morning before dawn and late on Saturday evening. At those times, the shower’s radiant near the Pleiades star cluster in Taurus will be well above the horizon in a dark sky.
The long-lasting, weak shower is the second of two consecutive showers derived from debris dropped by the passage of periodic Comet 2P/Encke. The larger-than-average grain sizes of the comet’s debris often produce colourful fireballs. The Northern Taurids shower typically delivers five meteors per hour at its peak period, but 2022 could see an upswing, according to the International Meteor Organization.
At this year’s peak, a bright, waning gibbous Moon will shine near the radiant, reducing the number of meteors we see.
Sunday, November 13 – Gibbous Moon near Gemini’s twins (all night)
On Sunday night, November 13, the waning gibbous Moon will be aligned with Gemini’s brightest stars, Pollux and Castor. When the trio rises in the east during mid-evening, the Moon will appear several finger widths below (or 3.5 degrees to the celestial southeast of) Pollux — close enough to share the view in binoculars (green circle). Somewhat less-bright Castor will shine above them. By dawn the eastward orbital motion of the Moon will carry it a little farther from Pollux and bend their alignment. Meanwhile, the diurnal rotation of the sky will pivot their line to horizontal.
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.