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Sky Happenings
Moab UT (at City Hall)
38O34’ N Latitude 109O33’ W Longitude
4048 ft - 1234 m

The Sky for November 2009

By Faylene Roth

Sunrise and Sunset Times for
November 2009

On November 1 clocks return to standard time which makes it easier to view the night sky. The period of daylight decreases from 10 hours 33 minutes on November 1 to 9 hours 41 minutes on November 30. Civil twilight extends the day by 30 minutes after sunset with adequate light for outdoor activities. During the next 30 minutes of nautical twilight, color of the sky and landscape fades away. In the final 30 minutes of astronomical twilight, the remaining light in the sky slowly withdraws below the horizon. The reverse progression applies to dawn. (Actual time of sunrise and sunset may vary depending upon the surrounding landscape.)

November begins with bright moonlit evening skies and a full moon on November 2, which rises at 4:58pm. On the evening of November 3 the moon passes through the Pleiades star cluster in the northeastern sky. By November 8 the moon does not rise until after midnight when it trails Mars into the eastern sky. The last quarter moon occurs November 9. Over the next few days it passes below Leo’s brightest star Regulus. By November 12 the moon passes the celestial equator and rises with Saturn in the southeastern sky. On November 14 it is nearly twilight before a waning crescent moon appears in the morning sky. A new moon occurs November 16. After November 18 a thin crescent moon reappears in the southwest soon after sunset. On November 23 the moon is back in the evening sky and appears just above Jupiter in the southern sky. The first quarter moon appears overhead on November 24 as evening twilight fades, but by midnight it has set below the horizon. A week later the moon rejoins the Pleiades, and the evening skies are again bright with a moon waxing to fullness and lighting the skies throughout most of the night.

Taurus is the radiant for two meteor showers that peak during the first two weeks of November. The full moon will wash out most sightings during the first week, but fireballs (especially bright meteors) are common from the Taurids and would be easily seen. Expect seven meteors per hour. Viewing improves during the second week as the moon wanes. By the time the Leonid Meteor Shower occurs November 13-20, the moon will be in new phase and will not cause any interference with viewing. Look for 10-40 meteors per hour radiating from the constellation Leo. Peak activity is the night of November 17/18. Best viewing is always after midnight when the radiant constellation is overhead.

Join Red Rock Astronomers for a tour of the night sky and telescope viewing at 6:00pm on Saturday, November 14, at Old City Park. If you have a telescope to bring to the gathering, arrive by 5:30pm to allow time for setup. In case of inclement weather, we will reschedule for Sunday, November 15. Call 259-4743 (Faylene Roth) or 259-3313 (WabiSabi) for more information. Sponsored by WabiSabi. All ages are welcome and the event is free. Dress warmly, bring a chair or blanket, and a flashlight.

To find out when the Space Shuttle and International Space Station are visible from your location, go to the following website and click on Sighting Opportunities:

Note: Hold your hand at arm’s length to measure apparent distances in the sky. Adjust for the size of your hand. The width of the little finger approximates 1.5 degrees. Middle, ring, and little finger touching represent about 5 degrees. The width of a fist is about 10 degrees. The hand stretched from thumb to little finger equals 20 degrees. The diameter of both the full moon and the sun spans only 0.5 degree.

Jupiter - Look in the eastern region of Capricornus for the lone visible planet of October evenings. Jupiter appears high in the southern sky as twilight fades. It is brighter than any other object in the night sky, excluding the moon. (Magnitude -2.5)

Mars - Look for Mars in the eastern sky about 30 minutes before Jupiter sets. It rises after 10:00pm in the central region of Cancer and appears a little farther east each day. Mars is overhead in the morning twilight. Look for its reddish orb with the stars Procyon, Sirius, Betelgeuse, and Rigel forming a haphazard square to the southwest. By month’s end, Mars will be one of the five brightest objects in the night sky. (Magnitude +1.3)

Saturn - Early morning provides the best time to view Saturn. Spica (Virgo) appears to the east of Saturn and Mars is higher in the sky to the west. The tilt of its rings towards Earth increases during the month so it appears a little brighter by the end of the month. (Magnitude +1.3)

Venus - This month Venus is the last of the visible planets to appear in the morning sky. It may not crest the eastern rims until nautical twilight brightens to civil twilight, but it will be bright enough to see if high enough. (Magnitude -3.8)

Apparent magnitude values range from -4 to +6 for most planets and visible stars. The lower the value the brighter the object. A decrease of 1.0 magnitude is 2.5 times brighter.

Primary Sources: USGS, U.S. Naval Observatory,



Ursa Major
Ursa Minor

Canis Major
Canis Minor



The Great Square of Pegasus appears overhead, marking the midpoint of Autumn. The Summer Triangle sinks into the western horizon as the Pleiades leads the winter constellations into the eastern sky—Taurus, Orion, Gemini, Canis Minor, Canis Major.

Hold the star chart high above your head and match the compass directions to the direction you are facing.
Adjust the star chart by orienting Ursa Major (Big Dipper) to match its position in the sky.

The star chart approximates the night sky from astronomical twilight to midnight. As the night and the month progress, the constellations will shift toward the northwest.

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