2013 has been called the Year of the Comet – and November has some great star-gazing events that you wont want to miss! Starting with a full moon, followed by two meteor showers, and ending with a view of newly discovered Comet ISON as it passes by our Sun. Will Comet ISON (C/2012 S1) be the comet of the century? We’ll find out soon, as estimates have the object visible through binoculars in early November. So grab your PahaQue Tent and your telescope, and enjoy some great Fall camping and awesome stargazing in November.
- November 3 – New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible from Earth. This phase occurs at 12:50 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.
- November 3 – Hybrid Solar Eclipse. A hybrid solar eclipse occurs when the Moon is almost too close to the Earth to completely block the Sun. This type of eclipse will appear as a total eclipse to some parts of the world and will appear annular to others. The eclipse path will begin in the Atlantic Ocean off the eastern coast of the United States and move east across the Atlantic and across central Africa.
- November 4, 5 – Taurids Meteor Shower. The Taurids is a long-running minor meteor shower producing only about 5-10 meteors per hour. It is unusual in that it consists of two separate streams. The first is produced by dust grains from Asteroid 2004 TG10. The second stream is produced by debris left behind by Comet 2P Encke. The shower runs annually from September 7 to December 10. It peaks this year on the the night of November 4. This is an excellent year because there will be no moonlight to spoil the show. Best viewing will be just after midnight from a dark location far away from city lights. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Taurus, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
- November 17 – Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth. This phase occurs at 15:16 UTC. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Beaver Moon because this was the time of year to set the beaver traps before the swamps and rivers froze. It has also been known as the Frosty Moon and the Hunter’s Moon.
- November 16, 17 – Leonids Meteor Shower. The Leonids is an average shower, producing an average of up to 15 meteors per hour at its peak. This shower is unique in that it has a cyclonic peak about every 33 years where hundreds of meteors per hour can be seen. That last of these occurred in 2001. The Leonids is produced by dust grains left behind by comet Tempel-Tuttle, which was discovered in 1865. The shower runs annually from November 6-30. It peaks this year on the night of the 16th and morning of the 17th. Unfortunately the glare from the full moon will block many of the meteors this year, but if you are patient you should still be able to catch quite a few good ones. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Leo, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
- November 28 – Comet ISON Closest Approach to the Sun. Newly discovered comet ISON will make its closest approach to the Sun on November 28. If the comet survives its encounter with the Sun, it could be one of the brightest comets in recent memory. Some astronomers estimate that it could even be bright enough to be seen during daylight hours. In August and September, the comet will begin to be visible in the morning sky in dark locations with telescopes. In October it will start to be visible to the naked eye and will continue to get brighter until November 28. If the comet survives, it will be visible in the early morning and early evening sky and could be nearly as bright as the full Moon. Some astronomers are already calling it the comet of the century.