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November 1999 Events

All times in 24 hour format (EST = Easter Standard Time, UT = Universal Time) Subtract 1 hour for Central Time, 2 hours for Mountain Time, and 3 hours for Pacific Time. Add 5 hours to EST for Universal Time.

MOON PHASES

MOON'S APOGEE AND PERIGEE

MORNING AND EVENING PLANETS

SUN, MOON AND PLANETS
SUN - (dist.: 92.9 mill. mi.) enters the constellation Scorpius on the 23rd.
MOON - passes Venus on the 3rd, Mars on the 13th, occults Neptune on the 14th, passes Uranus on the 15th, Jupiter on the 20th, Saturn on the 21st, and passes/occults Aldebaran on the 23rd.
MERCURY - (mag. 0.1 to -0.3, dist.: 81.4 to 86.7 mill. mi., color: yellow) is stationary, beginning retrograde motion on the 5th, enters inferior conjunction and transits the sun on the 15th, and is stationary, resuming direct motion, on the 24th.
VENUS - (mag. -4.4, dist.: 74.7 mill. mi., color: yellow) reaches aphelion on the 2nd, passed by the moon on 3rd, enters Virgo on the 3rd, and passes Spica on the 28th.
MARS - (mag. 0.8, dist.: 148.2 mill. mi., color: orange) is passed by the moon on the 13th, reaches perihelion on the 24th, enters Capricornus on the 26th, and passes Neptune on the 28.
JUPITER - (mag. -2.9, dist.: 375.9 mill. mi., color: yellow-tan) though a month passed opposition, is still very prominent all night. It is passed by the moon on the 20th.
SATURN - (mag. -0.2 dist.: 763.4 mill. mi., color: yellow) is the brightest it will be for the next 12 months, as it reaches opposition on the 6th. It is passed by the moon on the 21st.
URANUS - (mag. 5.8, dist.: 1,862.8 mill. mi., color: greenish) is within the constellation Capricornus. It is passed by the moon on the 15th.
NEPTUNE - (mag. 7.9, dist.: 2,828.9 mill. mi., color: bluish) is also within the constellation Capricornus. It is occulted by the moon on the 14th.
PLUTO - (mag. 13.9, dist.: 2,892.3 mill. mi., color: reddish) continues this month in the constellation Ophiucus.

EVENTS
Nov. 2 - Venus reaches aphelion
Nov. 3 - The moon is 3° north of Venus, 6 p.m. EST; Venus enters the constellation Virgo
Nov. 5 - Mercury is stationary, beginning retrograde motion, 3 a.m. EST; Mercury reaches aphelion
Nov. 6 - Saturn is at opposition, 9 a.m. EST
Nov. 13 - The moon (a five-day-old crescent) is 3° north of Mars, 11 a.m. EST
Nov. 14 - The moon is 0.2° north of Neptune, occulting Neptune as seen from many locations, 10 a.m. EST
Nov. 15 - The moon is 0.1° north of Uranus, 8 a.m. EST; Mercury is in inferior conjunction, transits the sun, 5 p.m. EST
Nov. 17 - Leonid meteor shower peaks
Nov. 20 - The moon is 4° south of Jupiter, 5 p.m. EST
Nov. 21 - The moon is 3° south of Saturn, 8 p.m. EST
Nov. 22 - Minor planet (asteroid) Kleopatra is at opposition, 6 a.m. EST
Nov. 23 - Sun enters the constellation Scorpius; the moon is 1.3° north of the star Aldebaran in the constellation Taurus, occulting Aldebaran as seen from some locations, 5 p.m. EST
Nov. 24 - Mercury is stationary, resuming direct motion, 8 p.m. EST
Nov. 25 - Mars is at perihelion (128.4 million miles from the sun), 8 a.m. EST
Nov. 26 - Mars enters the constellation Capricornus
Nov. 28 - Mars is 1.7° south of Neptune, 9 a.m. EST; Venus is 4° north of the star Spica in the constellation Bootes, 11 p.m. EST

SATURN AT OPPOSITION
At opposition, Saturn trails 16° east of Jupiter, or roughly one hand-span held at arm's length, and lies in the constellation Aries the Ram. Through a telescope, the rings appear tilted almost 20° to our line of sight so that we can see their southern face. The planet's disk spans about 18" across, one-third of Jupiter's giant disk. With the rings, however, the image spans 45" wide. Saturn's largest moon, Titan, is the target of NASA's Huygen's probe, which will be launched from the Cassini spacecraft upon its arrival at Saturn in 2004. Titan is unusual among the solar system's satellites because of its substantial atmosphere. The satellite was discovered in 1655 by Dutch astronomer Christian Huygens. Titan is visible in small telescopes because it shines at mag 8.3. It passes due north of Saturn on November 2 and 18, and due south on November 10 and 26.

Saturn is the second-largest planet in the solar system and also the least dense. Its mass is 95 times that of Earth and its density is 0.70 grams per cubic centimeter, so that it would float in an ocean if there were one big enough to hold it. Saturn radiates about 80% more energy than it receives from the Sun. Saturn's equatorial diameter is 120,600 kilometer (74,978 miles), 10% less than the diameter through the poles. This is a consequence of its rapid rotation, which is 10 hours, 39 minutes, and 24 seconds. Saturn has the largest ring system in the solar system, composed of billions of tiny particles of water ice and other material. Saturn has 19 known moons, the largest of which is Titan, with a diameter of 5,150 kilometers (3,200 miles). The next largest moons are Tethys, Dione, Rhea, and Iapetus. Some of Saturn's smallest moons orbit within the ring system. Their gravity helps to maintain the structure of some of the rings. These moons are called "shepherd moons."

COMET LEE (designated C/1999 H1 Lee)
This month, shining at mag 11, the comet is a faint remnant of its earlier brightness as it moves among the western portions of the constellation Andromeda. It starts November less than 2° east of NGC 7280, a 12.1-mag., roundish object. A telescope with an aperture of 8 inches is probably required to detect the faint, fuzzy patch of light.

Keep track of comets at URL: http://encke.jpl.nasa.gov/index.html

METEOR SHOWERS
NORTHERN TAURIDS - This is one of two showers visible in the fall and winter that originate from the constellation Taurus. Both of these showers appear to be caused by Periodic Comet Encke. The other shower is called the Southern Taurid shower. The Northern Taurid meteors are visible from October 15 through December 1 with the peak on November 1. The shower has a moderate rate of 5 per hour. The coordinate for the radiant of the Northern Taurid shower is RA 03hrs 44min, +22°.

SOUTHERN TAURIDS - This is one of two showers visible in the fall and winter that originate from the constellation Taurus. Both of these showers appear to be caused by Periodic Comet Encke. The other shower is called the Northern Taurid shower. The Southern Taurid meteors are visible from September 15 through December 15 with the peak on November 3. The average rate ranges from 5 to 15 per hour. The coordinate for the radiant of the Southern Taurid shower is RA 03hrs 44min, +14°.

LEONIDS - Meteors from this shower may be visible from Nov. 15 through Nov. 20 with the peak on Nov. 17. Leonid meteors have a bluish-green tint. This shower is caused by Periodic Comet Tempel-Tuttle. This comet returns to the inner solar system every 32.9 years. This shower is sometimes a veritable storm of meteors in the years surrounding the comet's return. This last occurred in 1966, when up to 40 meteors per second were seen for about an hour! Comet Tempel-Tuttle's return in 1999 has observers hopeful for another storm. The best chances to see a storm are in the early morning hours during the days surrounding the peak (Nov. 16, 17, 18). The meteors will appear to originate from a point in the constellation of Leo (RA 10 hrs 08 min, Dec +22°).

OBSERVING: Meteors are best viewed from a dark-sky location. Observers in for the duration of the evening, or at least for several hours, should bring along a few things: a sleeping bag or blankets for warmth, a recliner or lawn chair, a hot beverage to help cut the chill, and binoculars to view the smoke trails of just-past meteors.


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