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Thursday, November 1, 2012

November Night Sky

Halloween is over and November is here. As mentioned in my previous post, this is the time of year that Singapore experiences its earliest sunrise and sunset.

For the first half of November the Sun will rise at about 6:46am and set at 6:50pm. From now on, sunrise and sunset will gradually get later and later until around February 10th, where they reach their latest times of 7:17am and 7:21pm (in Singapore and other equatorial regions). Only half an hour different but it is noticeable  so enjoy those brighter morning this month.

Weather-wise, its still very rainy as we head further into the end of year rainy season. Although there are still some hot and sunny days here and there.
Here's a number of things can be seen on those occasional clear night.

The Moon

The best nights to observe the Moon at SCOB will be Friday 16th Nov (crescent Moon) & Friday 23rd Nov (Gibbous Moon).

Wednesday 28th November 2012, is the smallest Full Moon of the year, as this month's Full Moon coincides with the Moon's apogee or furthest distance from the Earth (roughly 406,364 km away).

However, the effect will be hard to notice as the size difference in the sky compared to other Full Moons will only be very slight. Although, I'm sure many photographic illusions will appear at this time to make the moon appear teeny-tiny.

Stars and constellations
Constellations in the early evenings of November are pretty dim. The brightest are located towards the North, the most obvious being the square shape of Pegasus and three bright stars forming the backbone of Andromeda (the Princess).

Located within this area are a few interesting objects:
1) Andromeda galaxy (M31) - one of the brightest and closest galaxies to our own Milky Way. Not such a great sight from Singapore, due to light pollution, but on a really clear night with no Moon, I've seen it as a  dim glow in our main 16inch telescope. (9th Nov and 30th Nov will probably the best Fridays to try this).
2) Gamma Andromedae - a bright double with a distinctive gold and blue colour pair of stars (when seen through telescopes).
3) The Triangulum - small constellation of three stars easily visible in binoculars and the naked eye.

Later in the evening towards midnight the bright constellations of Taurus and Orion begin to appear.

Uranus and Neptune are still around, high up in the sky, but they only appear as tiny faint dots.
Jupiter, one of the brightest planets in the sky, is visible just before 10pm. So we'll be aiming our telescopes towards Jupiter at the end of our Friday night stargazing sessions.

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