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Star Gazing - November 11, 2019
Monday, Nov. 11
• Transit of Mercury. Tiny Mercury crosses the face of the Sun today — during morning for North America,
midday in South America, and afternoon for Europe and Africa. The transit begins at 7:35 a.m. EST (12:35
UT) and ends at 1:04 p.m. EST (18:04 UT). At mid-transit, 15:20 UT, Mercury will be very close to the
center of the Sun's disk. Of course you'll need a safe solar filter over the front of your telescope!
Map and details, or see the November Sky & Telescope, page 48. Also: see Citizen Science with the Transit
Cloudy? Watch Gianluci Masi's live observing session of the transit from the Virtual Observatory, starting at
12:30 UT (7:30 a.m. EST).
• Algol is at its minimum brightness, magnitude 3.4 instead of its usual 2.1, for about two hours centered on
11:46 p.m. EST. In its normal state Algol is equal in brightness to Gamma Andromedae, now above it.
Tuesday, Nov. 12
• Full Moon tonight and tomorrow night (because it's exactly full at 8:34 a.m. Wednesday morning EST).
This evening the Moon shines in the east with the Pleiades to its upper left; binoculars will extract them
from the moonlight if necessary. Orange Aldebaran hangs to the Moon's lower left. Way down below, Orion
comes over the horizon.
Wednesday, Nov. 13
• Now the evening Moon shines close to orange Aldebaran. Above them are the Pleiades. Far down below is
Thursday, Nov. 14
• Vega is the brightest star high in the west. Almost as high in the southwest (depending on your latitude) is
Altair, not quite as bright.
Just right or upper right of Altair, by a finger-width at arm's length, is orange Tarazed. It looks like Altair's
little sidekick but it's actually a much bigger and brighter star far in the background. Tarazed is about 360
light-years away, and it's 100 times as luminous!
• Algol is at minimum light for about two hours centered on 8:35 p.m. EST.
Moon crossing Gemini, Nov. 15-17, 2019
The waning gibbous Moon crossing Gemini, up in late evening.
Friday, Nov. 15
• The waning gibbous Moon is high by late evening. It's in Gemini, in the dim feet of the Castor stick-figure
as shown here. Much easier to spot are Castor and Pollux, far to the Moon's lower left.
• Vega is the brightest star in the west early on November evenings. Its little constellation Lyra extends to
its left, pointing in the direction of Altair, the brightest star in the southwest.
Three of Lyra's leading stars, after Vega, are interesting doubles. Barely above Vega is 4th-magnitude
Epsilon Lyrae, the famous Double-Double. Epsilon forms one corner of a roughly equilateral triangle with
Vega and Zeta Lyrae. The triangle is less than 2° on a side, hardly the width of your thumb at arm's
Binoculars easily resolve Epsilon. And a 4-inch telescope at 100× or more should resolve each of Epsilon's
wide components into a tight pair.
Zeta Lyrae is also a double star for binoculars; much tougher, but plainly resolved in any telescope.
Delta Lyrae, upper left of Zeta, is a much wider and easier pair.
Saturday, Nov. 16
• The waning gibbous Moon rises by 8 or 9 p.m. Once it's well up you'll see that it's in Gemini, with Pollux to
its left and Castor above Pollux.
Starry, Starry Night . . .
"I know nothing of any certainty, but the sight of the stars
makes me dream." -Vincent Van Gogh