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November Skies 2014

November sees a return to Standard Time, (on the 2nd), and starts with a morning display of Mercury, its best of the year.  The Milky Way is high overhead, with the Summer Triangle slipping into the west, while the dazzling Capella rises higher in the northeast.  Lower in the east, the red star Aldebaran marks the eye of Taurus, the Bull.  Just above Taurus is the fainter cluster of stars known as the Seven Sisters, or the Pleiades.  Mars lingers in the southwest, while Jupiter rises earlier each night, close to 10 o’clock by month’s end, to the right of the star Regulus, the brightest star in Leo.  Venus and Saturn remain in the Sun’s glare.

20 – Jupiter is still a late night object, rising just before 10:30 in the east-northeast.  By the approach of dawn at 5:30, our largest planet is due south, quite brilliant, and quite high at two-thirds of the way up toward the zenith.

21 -  With the Big Dipper low in the north near 8 PM, you can use the stars on the right edge of the Dipper to point first to the North Star, about half way to the top of the sky. Continuing that line to a place just shy of the zenith you are right between the “w”-shaped constellation Cassiopeia, the Queen, and the “upside-down house” picture of Cepheus, the King.

22 -  The Moon is New today, and will edge slowly into the evening skies next week as a waxing Crescent.  This means dark skies this weekend, ideal for enjoying the Milky Way spread west to east across the dark velvet vault of the sky. It is estimated that our solar system takes a trip around the Milky Way galaxy once every 200 million years.



The latest information on the Rosetta Mission from ESA, solar activity, and the Aurora Borealis (northern lights).

Draco the Dragon and the northern sky (click on image for larger image in a new tab) 
Draco the Dragon




Astronomy Resources

Sky and Telescope’s safe eclipse viewing guide

You can view the partial eclipse safely and easily following the directions provided.


The Mars Science Laboratory – Curiosity Rover

This is the home page for the Curiosity Rover.  Explore the site to find images, videos, and volumes of science information.


The Mars Exploration Program

This is the home page for all of the on-going missions to Mars.


The Mars page of the website Nine Planets

Nine Planets is a great website featuring information about each planet (and even though there are only eight “planets”, you’ll find information about nearly all of the moons, dwarf planets, and other small solar system bodies)


Sky & Telescope's Interactive Star Chart

You must register first (it's free) to use this on-line chart.  Follow the directions to get a chart that will show the sky for any location, at any time.  You can also create a .pdf file to view from your computer any time.


The Old Farmer's Almanac


Astronomy Picture of the Day

Each day brings a fascinating look at astronomy, and an explanation of what you are seeing.

Vermont Astronomical Society

The Vermont Astronomical Society (VAS) is a group of amateur astronomers that has been serving northern Vermont for over 45 years. Membership ranges from beginning naked-eye stargazers to advanced amateurs with home observatories and elaborate equipment.



NASA Science

This is the home of NASA, where science ranges from the Earth to the ends of the universe.  That means there's a lot to explore!  


News and information about the Earth-Sun environment, including astronomy events (eclipses, moon phenomena, asteroids, etc.), discoveries, and Northern Lights.  


Sky & Telescope Magazine

 Astronomy Magazine

Books: There are thousands of books, and each has information that can be helpful.  You might collect a few before you find one that matches your taste and way of thinking about astronomy.  To help you get started, check with your local library or favorite book store for the following titles:  

The Stars by H. A. Rey

Rey, well known for writing and illustrating the "Curious George" books, wrote this wonderful introduction to the night sky in the 1950s, and it remains one of the best for a wide range of ages and interests.  

NightWatch by Terrence Dickinson

This ring-bound book leads the beginning star gazer through the heavens, rich in photographs, charts, and lots of practical information.  

Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning by Richard Hinkley Allen 

For those who love the myths and origins of star names and constellations, this is a wonderful start.  Some of the interpretations have been challenged in recent years as others have looked into the subject, so it is not considered the final authority.  But it is still a wealth of ideas and information.  

Night Sky: A Guide to Field Identification (Golden Field Guides) by Mark R. Chartrand

This all around guide book shows you how to find the constellations, describes the nature of the heavens and the objects we see, and how to set up and use a telescope  

Exploring the Night Skies with Binoculars by David Chandler

This is must, because it gives such practical and realistic expectations about what you can see.   

Also of interest:

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Astronomy by Christopher De Pree and Alan Axelrod

Cosmos by Carl Sagan

365 Starry Nights by Chet Raymo

The Sky: A User’s Guide by David Levy
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