Dark Nights For Leonid Meteors by William J. Bechaver

This week, we will be treated to a spectacular viewing of the Leonid Meteor Shower.

Adding to the intensity of the display will be the dark autumn nights.

Go outside any night for the next week, and look skyward to the south-east, toward the constellation of Leo, the Lion.

The meteor shower will experience peak activity on the night of Tuesday 17 November. That night, the moon will set around ten o’clock, so after that, the skies will be dark, just as Leo is rising in the east. The early morning of Wednesday 18 November will be the best time to see the most meteors, as the region will have climbed higher into the sky with the rotation of the Earth.

The Leonids strike the atmosphere at a higher rate of speed than meteors associated with other showers. Coming in at nearly 160,000 miles an hour, the icy particles of rock and dust will burn up, creating brilliant fireballs. You can expect to see about 15 brilliant ones an hour, during peak activity.

So bundle up and go out to enjoy one of the greatest meteor displays to which we will be treated this season. If it’s cloudy on the peak morning, dread not, for the shower will continue with high activity for more than a week following the peak, with plenty of secondary opportunities to view the spectacle.

It has now been almost four months since New Horizons spacecraft flew past Pluto, exploring the tiny planetary system as it passed. Last week, it was redirected toward its new target, a smaller object in The Kuiper Belt. So distant is the next object, that it will take three more years to get there. The small craft is already 128,750,000 miles beyond Pluto, now headed for its new destination.

Thanks for your interest in astronomy and our featured columns! If you have any article requests or questions, contact Spanish Peaks Amateur Cosmos Enthusiasts [SPACE] at spacescape@rocketmail.com for comments, suggestions, or inquiries about scientific information, or follow us on Twitter @ColoSpacEScapE for current updates or additional viewing opportunities.

William J. Bechaver is the Director of SPACE – Spanish Peaks Amateur Cosmos Enthusiasts [SPACE], the premier Astronomical Society in Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico.

ASTRONOMY BRIEF – THE MOON MAKES FOUR IN THE MORNING SKY by William J. Bechaver

As we’ve been watching the conjunction of the three brightest planets in the pre-dawn sky, we have seen the relationship change slowly over the course of a couple weeks. 

Mars has now sunk down farther from Jupiter, as Venus has also descended to join the grouping. Last week, Venus and Jupiter appeared closer than they have all year. Mars and Venus continued to proceed a little lower from Jupiter, and appeared very close together earlier this week.

Later this week, the Moon with join the trio, and provide us with a couple of amazing viewing opportunities. Unfortunately, with the time change, we will have to go out an hour earlier now to view it.

On the early morning of Friday 6 November, go out at about five in the morning now, and look high in the south-east. The Moon will form a nice pair with Jupiter. Venus and Mars, the brightest and the dimmest of the three, respectively, will still be close together down below.

The following morning, Saturday 7 November, the Moon will have sunk down to join the close pair of Venus and Mars, with merely a little over one degree of separation between the three. Brilliant Jupiter will be just above to accentuate the beautiful grouping. 

It has been more than 16 weeks since New Horizons spacecraft flew past Pluto. In that short amount of time, it has traveled more than 123 million miles beyond the small planetoid’s orbit, into deep space. That’s over a million miles further from home the little spacecraft travels every day!

Thanks for your interest in astronomy and our featured columns! If you have any article requests or questions, contact Spanish Peaks Amateur Cosmos Enthusiasts [SPACE] at spacescape@rocketmail.com for comments, suggestions, or inquiries about scientific information, or follow us on Twitter @ColoSpacEScapE for current updates or additional viewing opportunities.

William J. Bechaver is the Director of SPACE – Spanish Peaks Amateur Cosmos Enthusiasts [SPACE], the premier Astronomical Society in Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico.

ASTRONOMY BRIEF – SUPER CONJUNCTION IN THE MORNING SKY by William J. Bechaver

As we’ve been watching the conjunction of the three brightest planets in the pre-dawn sky, we have seen the relationship change slowly over the course of several mornings. 

Mars has now sunk down farther from Jupiter, as Venus has also descended to join the grouping. This week, Venus and Jupiter appeared closer than they have all year. Mars and Venus will now continue to proceed a little lower from Jupiter, and appear very close together this week.

On the early morning of Tuesday 3 November, go out between five and six and look high in the south-east. Mars and Venus, the brightest and the dimmest of the three, will lie very close together, with less than one degree of space apparently separating the two. Brilliant Jupiter will be just above the beautiful pair. 

Next week the moon joins the trio to add extra intrigue to the greatest and closest triple planetary conjunction we will see this decade!

It has been more than 15 weeks since New Horizons spacecraft flew past Pluto. In that short amount of time, it has traveled more than 116 million miles beyond the small planetoid’s orbit, into deep space. That’s nearly 8 million miles a week!

Thanks for your interest in astronomy and our featured columns! If you have any article requests or questions, contact Spanish Peaks Amateur Cosmos Enthusiasts [SPACE] at spacescape@rocketmail.com for comments, suggestions, or inquiries about scientific information, or follow us on Twitter @ColoSpacEScapE for current updates or additional viewing opportunities.

William J. Bechaver is the Director of SPACE – Spanish Peaks Amateur Cosmos Enthusiasts [SPACE], the premier Astronomical Society in Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico.