Babe Among The Stars: November's Total Eclipse

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Galaxy Babe's column banner, showing a full moon and some little folk looking up at the sky

Mortal as I am, I know that I am born for a day. But when I follow at my pleasure the serried multitude of the stars in their circular course, my feet no longer touch the earth - Ptolemy

November's Total Eclipse

The total solar eclipse on 13/14 November lived up to its promise down under. Check out the prominence at 12 o'clock and the Bailey’s Beads on this APOD image. A rather brilliant compilation shows how the total eclipse actually happens in stages. I was also quite taken with this study of the diamond ring effect because the cloud formation directly beneath the eclipsed sun reminded me of the United Kingdom of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

December 2012 Diary Dates

Jupiter reaches opposition on 2 December, it will register −2.8 magnitude. Although it looks like a star to the naked eye, it doesn't twinkle like the stars do. Plus if you know your constellations, Jupiter is easily found gracing Taurus the Bull. This area of the sky is always worth focusing your binoculars on! By the end of the year the gas giant will be just north of the Hyades, an open cluster in Taurus.

There is a fantastic conjunction due for early risers on 4 December. If you're up before the Sun, check the eastern sky but do NOT use binoculars or a telescope in case you look at the Sun accidentally. You should spot dazzling Venus immediately, she is unmistakable at −4 magnitude. Above Venus is Saturn, and just below Venus will be Mercury.

There are two meteor showers this month, the Geminids are a good bet as the rate at peak is 50 an hour and that will occur on the 13th when the Moon is new, so nothing to drown them out. This month also sees the solstice, and NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) launch their Track Santa, which is worth checking out.

  • 01: Track Santa begins
  • 04: Naked eye pre-dawn conjunction
  • 07: Jupiter 5° north of Aldebaran
  • 08: The Moon within 1° of Spica (alpha Virginis)
  • 09: Asteroid Vesta, Jupiter and Aldebaran form a triangle in Taurus
  • 10: Saturn is 4° north of the Moon
  • 10: Venus is 1.6° north of the Moon
  • 11: Mercury is 1.1° north of the Moon
  • 13: New Moon
  • 13: Geminids meteor shower peak
  • 14: Mars is 6° south of the Moon
  • 17: Neptune is 6° south of the Moon
  • 20: Uranus is 5° south of the Moon
  • 21: Winter solstice (Northern Hemisphere)/Summer solstice (Southern Hemisphere)
  • 22: Ursids meteor shower peak
  • 25: Jupiter 0.4° north of the Moon
  • 25: Christmas
  • 28: Full Moon – Cold Moon/Long Nights Moon
  • 31: Happy Hogmanay!

  • Chat about your celestial observances at the H2G2 Astronomy Society. Comment on anything in this edition of Babe Among the Stars by starting a new conversation below.

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