November 20th, 2017, 5:10 p.m. local time
A bitter, windy chill was in the air tonight, with calm and clear heavens in strong deference. The young crescent Moon made its Monthly debut in the West. Few will notice before it sets.
The Moon has now passed by the Sun three times in the sky since the Great North American Eclipse of 2017. Summer turned to Fall. Fall is rapidly giving way to Winter. The wonderful sites of the cosmos are available on nights like these for those who wish to seize the opportunity. But don’t wait too long, for the Sun and Moon and stars wait for no one as their eternal journey carries on.
Most trees framing this evening’s Moon have already started their annual hibernation. But amazingly, here in the Midwest in late November, many trees are stubbornly holding onto their leaves, though they usually would have been shed weeks ago by now. Notice the one tree in the background still full as if in mid September. I do not know what’s up with the trees this year, but they do need to hurry up if they don’t want to miss Winter.
My activity over the past several weeks has been slim to none with regards to astronomy and astrophotography. The main culprit has been the weather, with a heinous amount of cloud cover week over week. The few clear nights were unfortunately around the past Full Moon, making deep sky observations almost impossible.
Still, I have been checking out the stars when I can. In the weeks leading up to the Fall time change, it was sufficiently dark in the mornings to see stars. Notable was bright Sirius shining through even somewhat dense cloud cover. It was wonderful to see Orion again in the West in the hour before dawn. And now after the recent time change, I can see Orion rising around midnight above my trees blocking my East view.
Another notable in the sky is the Great Square of Pegasus. It’s now in its prime viewing season in the mid-evenings. And with Pegasus follows its neighboring constellation to the North, Andromeda. And with Andromeda comes…the Andromeda Galaxy! It’s just a faint blur for me through both binoculars and telescopes, but I hope this winter to try imaging it in several ways, to see if I can pick up any detail beyond its bright center.
Scanning further North, I also want to mention about imaging the star Algol in Perseus. This was brought up in Scott’s Sky Watch all the way back in September. About month ago, I did spend time locating Algol. Now, weather permitting, I hope to take a few pictures of it on different days, and see if its color changes.
Lastly, a note on the topic of light pollution: while I did write down what I consider the core matters, I have not blogged about it much in many months. I only want to mention that I have not forgotten about it, and in fact it is very much on my mind. It may be months or even years before I revisit it again here, but I’m going to talk about it when the time is right.