Look up at the night sky this November and you’ll see the grandeur of space. All you need is a relatively clear sky and even from the city you’re bound to see something – though, of course it’s far better and more rewarding if you can get away from the bright lights that drown out the star light. Fortunately, in Scotland, at least, you shouldn’t have to travel too far and we’re even blessed with the UK’s first Dark Sky Park in Galloway Forest Park where if the weather is favourable the skies are glorious!
The Night Sky
This image shows what the night sky looks like on 3rd November 2013 at midnight from Glasgow, UK. The sky will look similar at the same time through the month (you can click on it to make the image bigger).
You can see the planet, Jupiter is up before midnight. The largest of the planets in the solar system (and one of the planets that may experience ‘diamond rain’) it’s also very bright in our sky and through November can be found close to the twins of Gemini – Castor and Pollux.
This time of year and through the winter is very rewarding. Not just for the darker nights we get here, but also because the sky we see at night at this time of year in the Northern Hemisphere is so rich. You should be able to see the Milky Way (if you’re away from light pollution), the constellation of the hunter of Greek mythology, Orion. Plus, Taurus the bull with its red eye (the star, Aldebaron). And so much more!
Finding your way around the night sky needn’t be stressful! There’s several patterns in the stars that will help you find your way and that you can use as a jumping off point to find other points of interest.
One of the best known is ‘The Plough’ (also known as ‘the Big Dipper’). Using this asterism of 7 stars in the constellation of Ursa Major you can find Polaris, the North Star. Draw an imaginary straight line through stars 6 and 7, extend it into space and you’ll reach Polaris. You can use this as a starting point to find your bearings even if you don’t have a compass or GPS as it appears stationary directly above the North pole. The great thing about The Plough is that it’s circumpolar and always visible in the Northern Hemisphere through the year.
To find one of our neighbouring galaxies, Andromeda, look out for the constellation of Cassiopeia – high overhead, it’s the ‘W’ in the Milky Way. Use the ‘W’ like an arrow to point out from the Milky Way to the hazy patch of light that is the Andromeda Galaxy, some 2.4 million light years from us – you won’t even need a telescope or binoculars!
If you fancy swotting up on what you’re looking at in the night sky then be sure to check out these fantastic books about astronomy which are accessible for all levels and highly recommended.
Sunrise and Sunset times, Glasgow
3rd November 2013 – Sunrise 07:28 Sunset 16:32
10th November 2013 – Sunrise 07:43 Sunset 16:18
17th November 2013 – Sunrise 07:57 Sunset 16:06
25th November 2013 – Sunrise 08:13 Sunset 15:55
Times are listed are local to Glasgow and take account of Daylight Saving Time (also known as British Summer Time or BST). Daylight saving ends at 02:00 on 27th October 2013 – the clocks go back an hour – this is taken into account for the times listed above.
New Moon – 3rd November 2013, 12:50
First Quarter – 10th November 2013, 05:58
Full Moon – 17th November 2013, 15:16
Last Quarter – 25th November 2013, 19:29
Times are listed are local to Glasgow and take account of Daylight Saving Time (also known as British Summer Time or BST). Daylight saving ends at 02:00 on 27th October 2013 – the clocks go back an hour.
Happy skygazing this November!