THE THRILLING 30

New to stargaz­ing and not sure where to point your scope? Will Gater re­veals 30 cap­ti­vat­ing ce­les­tial sights for Novem­ber

Sky at Night Magazine - - CONTENTS -

Novem­ber is one of the year’s best months for stargaz­ing in the north­ern hemi­sphere and here are 30 good rea­sons why…

With the chilly nights re­ally be­gin­ning to bite this month, you’d be for­given for pre­fer­ring the warmth of the sofa to an evening spent lean­ing against the cold metal of a tele­scope. But shun the eye­piece in Novem­ber and you’ll miss out on one of the stand­out months for stargaz­ing in 2018. With plan­ets on show, a me­teor shower, a comet and an as­teroid at op­po­si­tion – all on top of a night-time sky that boasts some of the best late sum­mer to early win­ter tar­gets – there’s a won­der­ful ar­ray of sights over­head that’ll eclipse any­thing on telly. Here we’ve se­lected 30 phe­nom­ena that will ap­peal specif­i­cally to any­one new to as­tron­omy, and more ex­pe­ri­enced stargaz­ers should find the list an en­joy­able ap­pe­tiser for their own ob­ser­va­tions through­out the month. So fire up your favourite plan­e­tar­ium soft­ware or grab a star at­las and get ready to hunt down the thrilling 30.

Saturn

It might be past its best for the year, but, if you can, look for Saturn at the start of the month when it will be hug­ging the hori­zon in the south­west af­ter evening twi­light has faded. In all our years of stargaz­ing we’ve never come away from a view of Saturn at the eye­piece with any­thing like a sense of re­gret, so that’s why we’re kick­ing off this guide with the mes­meris­ing ringed planet.

Messier 13

From Saturn we turn to an ob­ject that is higher in the west at the be­gin­ning of the month. Messier 13, in Her­cules, is a ‘glob­u­lar clus­ter’, a spher­i­cal mass of stars sit­ting out­side the disc of our Galaxy. In a small tele­scope it looks like a blurred ball of light while in larger scopes it has a sparkling ‘gran­u­lar’ ap­pear­ance.

Epsilon Lyrae

Epsilon (¡) Lyrae – which is less than 2° from the bright star Vega, in the con­stel­la­tion of Lyra – is a star with a se­cret… or rather four. A low mag­ni­fi­ca­tion eye­piece will show it as two close points of light, but in­crease the mag­ni­fi­ca­tion and each of those points is re­vealed to be a pair of stars or­bit­ing each other.

The Coathanger Clus­ter

A good pair of binoc­u­lars is all you’ll need to catch the beau­ti­ful Coathanger Clus­ter among the dark dust lanes

and star fields of the Milky Way. It lies just over a third of the way be­tween the bright stars Al­tair and Vega.

Nep­tune

While Saturn and Mars can be seen clearly with the naked eye in Novem­ber’s skies, the fainter ice giant Nep­tune will re­quire binoc­u­lars or a tele­scope. It’s cur­rently about 2° to the east, roughly, of the star Lamda

(h) Aquarii. Through a medium-aper­ture tele­scope at high mag­ni­fi­ca­tion you should be able to see it as a small, bluish disc.

Al­bireo

As Cygnus soars high in Novem­ber’s early-evening skies look to its ‘head’ where you’ll find the star Al­bireo (Beta (`) Cygni). Turn­ing a tele­scope on it will re­veal an ex­quis­ite pair­ing of stars – one gold, one bluish. Data from the Gaia mis­sion re­cently re­vealed that this close stel­lar du­plet re­sults from a chance align­ment, as the stars are not phys­i­cally near to one an­other.

The Pleiades is the eas­i­est open clus­ter to spot with the naked eye

The Coathanger Clus­ter isn’t ac­tu­ally a clus­ter at all but a chance align­ment of stars

Messier 13, or, as it’s oth­er­wise known, the Great Glob­u­lar Clus­ter in Her­cules

Al­bireo is one of the best­con­trast­ing dou­ble stars be­cause of their vividly dif­fer­ent colours

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