Celestial events in the skies for the week of Nov. 14-20, 2017 as compiled for The Loafer by Mark D. Marquette.
A meteor shower, two morning planets merging, a Moon landing celebration and the first hints of Winter constellations are all happening this week.
Tuesday, November 14
From 6-6:30 am the two brightest planets merge as nearly one just above the eastern horizon. Venus and Jupiter are so close they look like one brilliant star before separating during the next days, Jupiter headed high in the morning stars while Venus is sinking toward the Sun to reappear in the west after sunset this Winter.s to the north while Vega in Lyra the harp sets directly west by 11 pm.
Wednesday, November 15
The bright star Capella is surprising to see above the northeast horizon around 9 pm, surprising because it is so brilliant among the faint stars of Cepheus the King, a constellation that looks loosely like a house.
Thursday, November 16
Looking north at around 9 pm the next two weeks is interesting. Cassiopeia is looking like an “M” directly above Polaris, the North Pole star. Bookending Polaris are two bright stars, Vega setting in the west and Capella to the right, or east
Friday, November 17
This evening and Saturday morning is the peak for the Leonid Meteor Shower, and there should be several dozen an hour to see. The best time is 3 am (Sunday night/Monday morning) when the Earth is facing into the swarm of debris caused by Comet Tempel-Tuttle. No special equipment is needed, just some patience while scanning the skies in a lawn chair—and some warm clothing!
Saturday, November 18
This will be truly the last moonless time to see the Milky Way as it arcs overhead in the west and sets around 11 pm. At that time bright stars Vega and Deneb are striking against the horizon.
Sunday, November 19
On this 1969 date in space history Apollo 12 safely landed on the Moon. Commander Pete Conrad, deceased, maneuvered the lander called Intrepid to the edge of football field-sized crater where the Surveyor 1 spacecraft was waiting after landing two and one-half years earlier. The other moonwalker, Alan Bean, 85, came back from the mission to later command the second Skylab Space Station mission. Orbiting the Moon in the Command Module Yankee Clipper was Dick Gordon, who died Nov. 7, 2017 at age 88. Bean is an accomplished artist, painting huge murals of his space experience that sell for tens of thousands of dollars.
Monday, November 20
On this 1998 date in space history, Russian launched the Zarya module, the first element of the International Space Station. Now finished and continuously occupied for nearly 17 years, the ISS has become a familiar site in our skies.