What’s Up?: Mercury & meteors

Nov 2, 18 • 5enses, What's up?No Comments

By Adam England

Mercury – “The Messenger of the Gods” – races around the Sun every 88 days, and was observed by nearly every known ancient culture as being the most mobile object in the sky. It reaches its greatest eastern elongation on Nov. 6, making it the visible and highest above the horizon in the evening sky. It will be low on the western horizon just after sunset.

The Transit of Mercury by Joel Cohen, director of the Prescott Astronomy Club, captured 9 May 2016 with TeleVue 76mm APO Refractor and Coronado 60mm HA filter.

November gives us the opportunity to view two meteor showers stemming from the tail streams of two comets and an asteroid. Peaking on Nov. 5, the Taurids Shower will see 5-10 dust grains enter our atmosphere each hour, best viewed around midnight. A second shower, the Leonids, peaks after midnight on Nov. 17 and is the remnants of comet Tempel-Tuttle, which most recently visited the inner solar system in 2001. As with most meteor showers, the name is based on the constellation from which the “shooting stars” appear to stem from, with the former coming from the constellation Taurus, and the latter from the constellation Leo. A new moon on Nov. 7 means that the lit portion of our celestial satellite will set on both nights to allow for optimal dark sky viewing.

Nov. 23 brings the Beaver Moon, so called by early Native American tribes for the time of year that beavers built their dams, and the last opportunity to trap prior to the rivers freezing.

 

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Visit Prescott Astronomy Club at PrescottAstronomyClub.Org. Contact them at Contact@PrescottAstronomyClub.Org.

Adam England is a local insurance broker who moonlights as an amateur astronomer, writer, and interplanetary conquest consultant. Follow his rants and exploits on Twitter @AZSalesman or on Facebook @AenglandLM.

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