Comet Observation Home Page
NOVEMBER 4, 1996: Winter Constellations Debut
- Answer to last week’s question: Mars passed above, then
to the left of Regulus. During the predawn mornings of the 5th and the 8th respectively,
the moon glides past Mars and Venus. In the evening, winter constellations begin to
dominate the east. By 8 p.m., Taurus and the star cluster called the Pleiades have
risen. At 10 p.m. Orion and Gemini are up, and by midnight the Big Dog, called Canis
Major, with blue-white Sirius graces the eastern horizon. The only star in our sky
brighter than Sirius is the sun.
NOVEMBER 11, 1996: View Hale-Bopp
- Look for Comet Hale-Bopp about 6:30 p.m. in the west,
southwest. H-B will be about three fist widths to the right of the planet Jupiter
and should be visible in binoculars as a fuzzy elongated object. Jupiter is a
bright star-like object low in the southwest. On the 14th, Jupiter, the crescent moon,
and the comet are in a straight line. H-B passes in back of the sun and into
invisibility in late December to reemerge in the January morning sky. Between March
and late April, H-B is expected to put on its finest performance, although lately its
brightening has been slower than expected. H-B has been predicted to be brighter than
Comet Hyakutake, visible last spring. The Hale-Bopp map is courtesy of the
NOVEMBER 18, 1996: Gibbous Moon
The moon’s brightness continues to increase. On the 18th
it’s a day past first quarter in the waxing gibbous cycle of its phases. The word
gibbous means that both "sides" of the moon bulge outward. The moon becomes more gibbous
during the week, with full moon occurring at 11:10 p.m. on the 24th. The lunar phases
as we observe them are just the moon’s cycle of day and night which repeats itself
every 29-1/2 days. Watch the moon pass Saturn between the 19th and 20th.
NOVEMBER 25, 1996: The Hyades
Use binoculars about 9-10 p.m. to view Aldebaran high in the east. Aldebaran is the
brightest star in a "V" shaped grouping which represents the head of Taurus, the Bull. All
of the stars of the "V," except for Aldebaran, are part of an open cluster called the Hyades.
These stars were all born about 700 million years ago and are all moving in the same direction. The cluster is about 125 light years
away. By week’s end, moonlight will not hamper the true beauty of this cluster. Comet
Hale-Bopp's slump in brightness seems to be reversing itself. More information will follow.