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Figure 1. Rising of the Winter Hexagon seen to the ESE from Tupper Lake at 11 pm on November 6, 2012. Jupiter is in Taurus moving westward in retrograde motion. The galactic anti‐center is the line of sight along the plane of the galaxy outward from the center (in Sagittarius). Made using Starry Night software.
Figure 1. Rising of the Winter Hexagon seen to the ESE from Tupper Lake at 11 pm on November 6, 2012. Jupiter is in Taurus moving westward in retrograde motion. The galactic anti‐center is the line of sight along the plane of the galaxy outward from the center (in Sagittarius). Made using Starry Night software.

November skies offer early risers lots to see

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Planets are on the move in in the mornings, in both the eastern and western skies. Astronomer Aileen O'Donoghue sketched the scenes in conversation with Martha Foley Tuesday morning, and she also explained why the moon matters so much in the ocean's tides, like those that swept ashore during superstorm Sandy.

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Martha Foley
News and Public Affairs Director

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The morning sky is filled with beautiful constellations and planets such as Orion, Sirius, Taurus, Jupiter, Venus, and many more to, said O'Donoghue. “I enjoy seeing the stars when I get home at night, and I enjoy seeing the stars when I get up and leave in the morning.” O'Donoghue believes it is a good time to do some stargazing as the month of November brings out some very beautiful skies.

Venus is very bright in the east and moving towards the horizon, sort of dropping out of the sky, and will not be seen soon. On Sunday November 11, Venus will be next to the crescent moon. The next morning, there will be an even thinner crescent moon and Saturn will be able to be seen. Saturn used to be able to be seen in the night sky, but will soon be in the morning sky for quite a while.

“Between November 22 and December 1 Venus and Saturn are going to be together within 5 degrees in the sky,” said O'Donoghue. 5 degrees is about a two-finger width held at arms length. This will occur in the Eastern part of the morning sky, and although they will be low, Venus is very bright and should be easy to spot.

Looking to the west, Jupiter is very bright, and can be seen around the Taurus constellation. The constellations that make up Taurus include the Pleiades, and the Hyades, which includes Aldebaran, a very red star.  Jupiter can be seen between the bull’s horns, moving westward. Jupiter will move down toward the Hyades, then pause, and then move back the other way.

Figure 2. Orion and Taurus showing the motion of Jupiter from 11/6/12 to 6/1/13. The constellations will be seen at this angle in the morning of 11/6 (7 am) and early evening of 6/1 (5:30 pm).
Figure 2. Orion and Taurus showing the motion of Jupiter from 11/6/12 to 6/1/13. The constellations will be seen at this angle in the morning of 11/6 (7 am) and early evening of 6/1 (5:30 pm).
We will be closest to Jupiter December 2, and you can use binoculars to see it better, said O'Donoghue. “You can look at the moons, the Galilean moons, the ones that Galileo watched in January of 1610!” In the evening sky, Jupiter will be moving westward until it goes out of sight in early June.

“Watching these planets gliding silently between the stars for me is just magical… it just fascinated our ancestors.”

There will be a new moon on November 14, which is significant because the moon will be at it’s closest to Earth 12 hours later. This means there will be very high tides, and very low tides. She says new and full moons make higher tides then quarter moons. The gravity of the moon pulls harder on the near side of the Earth than the far side, kind of elongating the Earth, creating a tidal bulge.

The sun also has a tidal effect, and at new moon and full moon, the effect of the moon and sun combine, because they are lined up. In contrast when there is a quarter moon, the moon is pulling the tides away from the sun, creating low high tides and high low tides.

And lunar tides are greater at perigee, when the moon is closest to the Earth. There is a theory that a perigee tide caused the iceberg to become ungrounded that hit the Titanic.

This new moon will also mark a new Muslim year. “They are on a truly lunar calendar. They have to be able to see the crescent moon the evening before the first day of the New Year,” said O’Donoghue. If it cannot be seen the New Year will be pushed back a day.

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