The morning of November 8 will bring the final lunar eclipse for 2022. For the Mountain time zone, the eclipse begins high in the southwestern sky at 2:09 a.m. MST. Totality will begin at 3:16 a.m. MST and last for approximately 86 minutes. The Moon will set about halfway through the final penumbral phase. If you wish to view the entire eclipse, I hear Hawaii is a nice place to visit this time of year!
This year November brings us a second celestial treat. On the nights of the 17th, 18th and 19th we will experience the annual Leonid meteor shower. In recent years this shower had not been very productive, generating meteors at a rate of only 10 to 15 meteors per hour. However, this year the Earth will plow through three distinct debris trails left by comet Temple/Tuttle in 1600, 1733 and 1800.
The first surge in meteors will begin around midnight MST on the 17th-18th. The second surge is due at about 11 p.m. MST on the 18th and has a chance to be pretty spectacular with predictions running as high as 250 to 300 meteors per hour. The final surge will be lost to us because of daylight in the Mountain time zone around 8 a.m. on the 21st. As always, predicting meteor shower numbers is very uncertain. Additionally, the waning Moon, about two hours east of the Leonid radiant (point of origin), could be a bit of a problem for this year’s shower.
This month the nighttime parade of planets will feature Saturn, Jupiter and Mars. Venus is still lost to us in the Sun’s glare and will only peak above the western horizon just after sunset at a very late date this month. While Saturn and Jupiter will be high, bright, and well-placed for naked eye, binocular, and small telescope viewing. Mars, at magnitude -1.5 and quite a bit east of the two giant planets, will also be easy to spot. However, the best views of the red planet might require binoculars or a small to medium size telescope.
The Moon will be first quarter on the 1st, full on the 8th, last quarter on the 16th, and new on the 23rd. Looking directly overhead on the 1st, the waxing Moon can be found a scant 4.5 degrees from Saturn. Looking to the southeast on the 4th, about halfway up at 9 p.m., the waxing Moon can be found just below and to the left of Jupiter. Looking to the northeast on the 10th and 11th at about 8 p.m., the Moon will be above and to the right of Mars on the 10th, and below and to the left of Mars on the 11th. On the early evening of the 28th and low on the southwestern horizon, the crescent Moon can be found just below Saturn.
On Sunday November 6, daylight saving time ends at 2 a.m. for most of us in the United States and Canada. Remember to “fall back” by setting your clocks back one hour.
There will not be a first Saturday star party at the Etscorn Campus Observatory this month.
Jon Spargo is part of the New Mexico Tech Astronomy Club