Tonight the Moon will be exhibiting a waxing gibbous phase. The dark patches you see on the Moon are called Maria. These were produced when lava once poured onto the Moon’s surface.
In the morning of Nov. 5 the Southern Taurid meteor shower will peak around 6am. For the best chance to see meteors go outside at 10pm and look east. Your chances will improve once Taurus climbs higher in the sky.
Public Telescope Viewing will be held at the James S. McDonnell Planetarium tonight with the St. Louis Astronomical Society. For more information visit www.slsc.org
Daylight saving time ends tomorrow at 2am. We will be returning to Central Standard Time (CST) so remember to set your clocks back one hour.
At 7:04pm the bright star Aldebaran will be occulted by the Moon. During this you will see the bright star disappear behind the Moon. Unfortunately it occurs shortly after moonrise. Aldebaran will reappear at 7:51pm.
The Moon is at perigee tonight. This is when the Moon is closest to Earth. During this perigee the Moon will be 361,438 km from Earth.
Tonight if you look east at 10pm you will see the three stars of Orion’s Belt. What appears to be three stars is really about 80. Orion’s Belt is a star cluster called Collinder 70.
Tonight you will find the constellation Cetus in the south. This is a dim constellation with two bright stars Menkar and Deneb Kaitos. As the year ends you should see another bright star appear between them. This is the variable star Mira.
Tomorrow morning NASA will launch NOAA’s Joint Polar Satellite System-1. This is a polar orbiting weather satellite that will monitor global atmospheric, terrestrial and oceanic conditions.
Last quarter moon occurs tonight at 8:36 pm which is before moonrise. On average the Moon is about 240,000 miles from us. Tonight it will only be 232,755 miles from Earth.
The Northern Taurid meteor shower will peak tomorrow morning around 5am. Your best bet to see meteors will be after midnight when the constellation Taurus is high overhead.
On this date in 1980 the Voyager 1 mission made its closest approach to Saturn. Its closest approach to Saturn was about 124,000 km.
Tomorrow morning look east for a thin waning crescent moon around 5 am. Just below the Moon you will also see the planet Mars.
The star Polaris is currently the North Star. The Earth wobbles on its axis in a motion known as precession. Because of this the star Vega will be the North Star in 12,000 years. You can see Vega in the west around 6 pm.
On this date in 1738 Sir William Herschel was born. Herschel discovered the planet Uranus in 1781. You can find Uranus in the constellation Pieces but it will require binoculars.
The Leonid meteor shower peaks on November 17 for N. American observers. Your best chance to see this meteor shower will be around 3 am on November 17 and 18. The Moon will be a waning crescent so it will not interfere.
If you look in the north around 6 pm you will see a group of stars that look like the letter ‘W”. This is the fall constellation Cassiopeia, the Queen.
New moon occurs today starting lunation 1174. A lunation is the time it takes for the Moon to go from new moon to the next new moon. This takes about 29.5 days which is the basis for our month.
On this date in 1969 the Apollo 12 mission landed on the Moon. During Apollo 12 mission astronauts Pete Conrad and Alan Bean rendezvoused with the Surveyor 3 mission on the lunar surface.
Today in 1998 assembly of the first multinational space station started. Today we call this the International Space Station (ISS) which is periodically visible from our backyards.
The moon will be at apogee today which is when the Moon will reach its greatest distance from Earth. For the current lunation that distance is 406,132 km.
Looking to the southeast around midnight you will see Sirius, the Dog star. It is the brightest star in the night sky as viewed from Earth and is hotter than the sun!
The average distance to the moon is around 240,000 miles. The Apollo spacecraft took 3½ days to reach the moon.
Tonight Mercury will reach its greatest eastern elongation. This will be your best chance to see the elusive planet. Tonight you will find Mercury about 6° above the western horizon 45 minutes after sunset.
Look south tonight around 6 pm and you will find the Moon in the constellation Capricornus. This is one of the oldest of the 88 constellations astronomers use which comes from the Sumerian culture.
First quarter moon occurs tonight at 5:03 pm. The line that separates night and day on the Moon is called the terminator. Look along this line for the best views of the lunar surface.
Looking east around 6 pm tonight you will find a small tight group of stars named the Pleiades. This is an open star cluster that formed within the last 100 million years and is over 400 light years from the Earth.
Looking to the southeast around 10 pm tonight you will see the constellation Orion the Hunter. Orion will be visible earlier in the evening, as we get closer to the winter season.
Christian Doppler was born on this date in 1803. This physicist described the Doppler shift that occurs with sound and with light from stars.