With the return to standard time, November evenings come very early for northern observers. Our monthly Sky Tour lets you hunt down a not-so-nice celestial queen and other sky sights before dinner!
About three fists to the upper right of Polaris, look for five medium-bright stars crudely shaped like a “3” or like a broad “W” tipped up on its left corner. This is the constellation Cassiopeia, who is a queen in Greek mythology. Ancient poets say Cassiopeia was queen of either Ethiopia or Joppa, the city now called Jaffa in Israel. In any case, she was both beautiful and boastful. Cassiopeia’s misdeeds landed her up in the sky, doomed to hang upside down half the time and clinging to her throne so she doesn’t fall off. But there's much more to this story, as you'll learn in this month's Sky Tour astronomy podcast.
This is also the time of year to track down Fomalhaut, the bright but lonely autumn star found low over the southern horizon. It’s part of the dim constellation known as Piscis Austrinus, the Southern Fish, and in fact Fomalhaut means “mouth of the fish” in Arabic.
Switching to the predawn sky, head outside at least a half hour before sunrise. Get a clear sight line toward east, and you'll easily spot brilliant Venus not far up. But this month you can also catch a glimpse of fleet-footed Mercury as rockets up into view for its best predawn showing of the year. The podcast will tell you where and when to look for Mercury.
More planets await you in the evening sky. Mars shines brightly over in the east. Look to the upper-left of the sunset point to find Jupiter and dimmer Saturn is a bit to its upper left. That's right: November offers the chance to see all five naked-eye planets!
There’s lots more to see on November evenings, and this month’s Sky Tour astronomy podcast is a fun and entertaining way to track down these celestial treats. No stargazing experience or equipment is needed! In fact, this month you'll learn how you and your family can contribute to science by just looking up at the stars and noting what you see (full details are here).
So if you’ve got 12 minutes to spare, why not give our Sky Tour a listen?