This Week’s Sky at a Glance, November 25 – December 2

Stock market-minded astronomers could be inspired by looking to the northeast after twilight. On evenings in mid-May, Ursa Major the Great Bear is high overhead, dominating the sky. Taurus the Bull, meanwhile, sets early, and then we have several months of a bear market for stargazing. Later sunsets and extended twilight, with the compounded interest of daylight time, means sparse hours for viewing the night sky. Now that we are well beyond the autumnal equinox and have returned to standard time, early darkness reveals the Great Bear has reached bottom to the north after sunset, and the celestial Bull is rising in the east. We are entering the bull market phase of stargazing.

Although we lose the globular clusters and nebulae that abound within the Milky Way areas of Scorpius, Ophiuchus and Sagittarius, we can still observe the summer treasures near Lyra and Cygnus before they set. The autumn constellations of Cassiopeia, Andromeda and Perseus are peaking in mid-evening, ceding their reign to the bright stars and open clusters of winter’s Taurus, Orion and his dogs, Auriga and Gemini around midnight. Early risers can start on the springtime galaxies in Leo and Virgo before morning twilight. For astronomers, as the carol goes, it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

I would like to end this market report with a bad pun but, fortunately for you, none comes to mind. I find that unbearable.

This Week in the Solar System

Saturday’s sunrise in Moncton is at 7:33 am and sunset will occur at 4:38 pm, giving 9 hours, 5 minutes of daylight (7:36 am and 4:46 pm in Saint John). Next Saturday the Sun will rise at 7:42 am and set at 4:34 pm, giving 8 hours, 52 minutes of daylight (7:44 am and 4:42 pm in Saint John).

The Moon is at first quarter on Saturday, and on Sunday around 10:30 pm it will be half a binocular width below Neptune. Mercury passes a few degrees below Saturn in the early evening this weekend. Jupiter is halfway between Mars and Venus in the morning sky, with Venus rising 45 minutes before sunrise by next weekend. Early in the New Year, Mars and Jupiter will have a close conjunction, Mercury and Saturn will have moved to the morning sky, and Venus will be at superior conjunction behind the Sun.

RASC NB members will be holding a public observing session at the Moncton High School Observatory on the evening of Friday, November 24 from 6:30 to 8:30. The Saint John Astronomy Club meets at the Rockwood Park Interpretation Centre on Saturday, December 2 at 7pm. All are welcome.

Questions? Contact Curt Nason at nasonc@nbnet.nb.ca.