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Sky Report -November 2009

Standard Time Returns, Full (Huntersí) Moon and Leonid Meteor Shower

We set our clocks back an hour as we go to bed on Halloween, shifting to Standard Time on the first Sunday of November. This is our second year of extended Daylight Time, which lasts from 2nd Sunday of March until the 1st Sunday of November. In early November, the sun rises about 6:45 a.m. and sets about 5:10 p.m. In late November, sunrises are about 7:15 a.m. and sunsets are about 4:50 p.m. (Valley dwellers may have to add about an hour to sunrise for their first sight of the sun and subtract an hour for their last look at the sun before sunset.)

Novemberís full moon occurs on the evening of the 2nd, with the moon in the star group Aries. This is the Hunterís Moon, the full moon after the Harvest Moon. The moon orbitís low angle to the eastern horizon will give us extra evening moonlight for the next four evenings. On the morning of November 9th, the half full moon (last quarter) appears in the South at dawn. On November 12th, the crescent moon appears to the right of the planet Saturn in the southeastern dawn. On November 15th, a very slender crescent moon appears low in the 6:30 a.m. eastern dawn to the right of the brilliant planet Venus. This may be your last week to see Venus until it reappears low in the western dusk in late winter 2010. The moon swings from the morning to the evening side of the sun on November 16th. By Thursday, November 19th, the crescent moon will be easily visible in the western dusk. On Monday, November 23rd, the moon appears near the very bright planet Jupiter in the southwestern dusk. One evening later, the moon appears half full (first quarter) in the southern evening sky. Novemberís last evening will see a nearly full moon in front of the stars of Aries.

For the past two centuries, the greatest meteor showers have been the Leonids of mid November, where the meteors can be traced back to the star group Leo. The Leonids peak in the early morning hours of November 17th, when the star group Leo is above the horizon. Conditions are very good as the moon has just swung to the evening side of the sun. There was a very strong display in 2002, but every few years, the number of meteors may surge. The Leonids are caused by grit from Comet Tempel-Tuttle, which last visited the sun in 1998. As a comet rounds the sun, itís outer ice melts, allowing grit to be left behind along its orbit. As the Earth plows across a cometís orbit, it collides with the cometís grit, causing a meteor shower.

Our November program at the Frostburg State Planetarium is ďSky Exploring with a TelescopeĒ, about all sky objects and sights that you can see with a small telescope. This program is shown on Sundays on November 1st, 8th, 15th and 29th at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. in Tawes 302. Call (301) 687-7799 to leave your name and mailing address to receive a free Planetarium bookmark (with schedule and small campus map). You can also visit the Planetariumís area on the Frostburg State website at http://www.frostburg.edu/planetarium

By Dr. Bob Doyle

To contact Dr. Doyle, his mailing address is Planetarium, Frostburg State University, Frostburg, MD 21532 or by email at rdoyle@frostburg.edu.









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