Advert

A tulip in the early evening skies

The Tulip Nebula in the constellation Cygnus was shot in this combination of 22 exposures of five minutes’ duration each at ISO 3200 with a 20cm-diameter telescope by Michael Nolle in San Lawrenz, Gozo.

The Tulip Nebula in the constellation Cygnus was shot in this combination of 22 exposures of five minutes’ duration each at ISO 3200 with a 20cm-diameter telescope by Michael Nolle in San Lawrenz, Gozo.

A giant gas cloud in the shape of a flower – let us call it a tulip – lies out in the vastness of space towards the constellation Cygnus, the swan. Known as the Tulip Nebula, this glowing cloud of interstellar gas and dust is around 8,000 light years away.

It blossoms in the centre of this month’s image by Michael Nolle, shot through his telescope at San Lawrenz, Gozo. Close by lies Cygnus X-1, one of the first black hole candidates discovered by astronomers due to the emission of X-ray radiation. This month Cygnus lies low in the west after sunset.

November 14 sees the ‘supermoon’ – a full moon which falls close to the day of lunar perigee – the point in the moon’s orbit when it is closest to the Earth. The moon will lie 356,509 kilometres away from the Earth, so do make sure to go out and look as it will be the biggest and brightest full moon for a few years to come. There will not be a stark contrast with the ‘usual’ full moon – so it is suggested that a photo be shot and different full moons compared.

November 14 sees the ‘supermoon’, the biggest and brightest full moon for a few years to come

Brilliant planet Venus has finally made its return to dominate the evening skies, hanging low in the western horizon after sunset. This month it will start to climb out of the evening twilight while increasing in brightness. While today it sets around two hours after sunset, by the end of the month it will set an hour later as it rises higher and higher.

The third week of November will also see tiny planet Mercury return to the evening sky. Saturn will be close by during the last week of the month but it will be very difficult to spot in the bright evening twilight as it has now moved ahead on its orbit and is heading behind the sun (as seen from the Earth) so it will not be visible in the coming months. Similarly, the planet Mars stays low among the background stars in the southwestern sky. It continues to dim as it moves from Sagittarius into Capricornus.

Anyone having a small telescope can try to spot distant planets Uranus and Neptune, which are well-placed in the evening sky, in Pisces and Aquarius respectively. Visit the website of the Astronomical Society of Malta below for finder charts to be able to locate these two objects.

Over to the morning sky, giant planet Jupiter happens to be the only planet visible in the morning sky throughout this month. Avid sky gazers will have noted how Jupiter was visible in the evening sky a few months ago in April, then slid down into the evening twilight during summer and remained invisible as it passed behind the sun, only to reapper ‘on the other side’ in the morning skies this month. This is all due to the fact that the Earth is rotating around the sun and hence our perspective of the starry background (including the planets) changes according to where we are in this year-long journey. Jupiter rotates around the sun as well, but it takes almost 12 years to do so. Actually this gas giant is so massive – two times as big as all the other planets put together – that Jupiter does not really orbit the sun, but they both orbit one common centre of mass (called the barycentre) which is just beyond the sun’s surface. Jupiter’s massive size tugs onto the sun itself and causes it to ‘wobble’.

www.maltastro.org

Astronomical events this month

Nov 7: First quarter moon
Nov 12: North Taurid meteor shower
Nov 14: Moon perigee: 356,509 km
Nov 14: Full moon
Nov 15: The moon close to the star Aldebaran (evening)
Nov 17: Leonid meteor shower
Nov 21: Last quarter
Nov 23: Mercury near Saturn
Nov 25: The moon near Jupiter (morning)
Nov 27: Moon apogee: 406,600 km
Nov 29: New moon

Advert
Comments not loading? We recommend using Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox with javascript turned on.
Comments powered by Disqus  
Advert
Advert