the Orionids meteor shower peaked in October, it is still active until
Nov. 7. Expect 20 to 25 meteorites per hour. The shooting
stars can appear in any part of the skies but they will seem to
originate from the constellation, Orion. Look for the Orionids between
midnight and dawn.
Similarly, the Southern Taurids meteor shower
also peaked in October, but there are predictions of high activity on
the nights of Nov. 4 and 5. This is a minor shower, but it has a
good record of producing fireballs. Peak viewing will be around
The Northern Taurids will peak on the night of
Nov. 11. Like the Southern Taurids, this is a minor shower that
has a reputation for producing fireballs. Peak viewing is around
Like the Orionids, the shooting stars -- and
fireballs -- from the Taurids can appear anywhere in the night skies,
but they will appear to emanate from the constellation Taurus. If
you’re a stickler for finding the source of the Taurids, try locating
the Pleiades, M45. It’s just about in the center of the
The Pleiades will rise in the east at about 6:45
p.m. on Nov. 1. It’s a tight cluster of stars you can use to
check your vision. There are six prominent stars that are readily
visible with the naked eye. Under very dark good conditions, you might
be able to spot more.
The Leonids meteor shower will peak just before
dawn on the morning of Nov. 17. These shooting stars will appear to
originate almost directly overhead from the constellation Leo.
November will start with Venus and Saturn in the
southwest at dusk. Mars will start the month about 30 degrees
above the south-southwest horizon. For those of you with a telescope,
Neptune and Uranus will both be in the southeast skies.
Jupiter will be visible in the pre-dawn skies near the eastern horizon. On Nov. 1, it rises at 5:04 a.m.
The second half of October brought clear skies
and long, dark nights, which allowed me to focus on my favorite nebula,
NGC 7293, the Helix Nebula. Sometimes called “the Eye of God” or
the “Eye of Sauron” (for all or you Tolkien fans), the Helix Nebula is
fairly close to us. It’s only 900 light years away. The
Helix Nebula is very large, but it’s not very easy to see through a
If the nebula appears to look like a pipe, you’re
right! We are literally looking into the end of a trillion-mile
long tunnel. Imagine getting stuck in that at rush hour!
Another nebula I was able to capture is the
Wizard Nebula, NGC 7389. At magnitude +11, the Wizard Nebula is
difficult to image. It’s a star forming region that’s
located about 7,200 light years away. The Wizard Nebula was
discovered in 1787 by Caroline Hershel.
At first I had a difficult time seeing the
“wizard,” but now the image brings up memories from Disney’s
Fantasia. In truth, I’m not sure if I’m seeing a wizard or a
First Quarter: November 7
Full moon: November 14
Last Quarter: November 21
New moon: November 29
Lebing is a retired computer scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey
in Washington, D.C. He has visited Hatteras Island since the
mid-1970s. He and his wife, Karen, have owned property here for several
years and moved to their home in Waves full-time in 2013.
Astronomy is a subject that Gerry says he has always been interested in
and one that he pursues seriously -- he's built an small observatory
next to his house. You can send him questions about the night sky
through e-mail, [email protected].)