Oct 26 2012 By David Moulton North Wales Astronomy Society
With the nights getting longer stargazing becomes easier in the early evening. Lots to see in the evening sky this autumn
November 17, 18 - Leonids Meteor Shower
The Leonids are regarded one of the better annual meteor showers to observe, he shower often produces 40 meteors per hour at their peak. The Leonids also have a cyclic peak every 33 years where hundreds of meteors can be seen each hour.
The last of these occurred in 2001.The shower is associated with the comet Tempel Tuttle and usually peaks on November 17 & 18, but you may see some meteors a few days either side of their peak. While the meteor shower radiant is in Leo meteors are best viewed to one side of the constellation rather than the point of origin.
If weather conditions are suitable then the Leionids should put on a fine display this year. No equipment is necessary your eyes are enough, allow time for your eyes to accustom to the dark wrap up warm and see if you can’t spot one of these celestial travellers.
Meteor showers can be photographed without too much in the way of sophisticated equipment.
If you have a tripod and camera with a wide angle lens and the ability to take long exposures in the order of 10-30 seconds then by taking multiple exposures you may be lucky enough to capture meteor s trails as they streak across the night sky against a starry backdrop.
November 27 - Conjunction of Venus and Saturn
Both of these planets will be within 1 degree of each other in the morning sky. Look to the South East around sunrise.
Jupiter is rising earlier now in the evening sky and also increasing in size as the planet gets closer to opposition in December. This autumn is a great time to seek out the Giant planet. Small telescopes will show the planets main cloud belts and the ever changing position of the four Galilean moons, a fine sight in moderate to large telescopes. Even binoculars will pick out the Galilean Moons.
The Autumn constellations of Pegasus , Perseus and Auriga are now taking charge of the night sky with the summer Triangle which encompasses the constellations of Cygnus, Aquila and Lyra sinking lower in the East .
Binocular targets include the double cluster in Perseus NGC 884 and NGC 869
The great spiral galaxy in Andromeda M31. The galaxy is just about visible to the naked eye from a reasonably dark sky M31 is arguably one of the most distant object visible to the naked eye at 2.5million light years from Earth.
M31 shows up well in binoculars as a faint fuzzy patch of light. A great target for Astrophotographers too.
Another galaxy worthy of attention is also part of our local
group with the Messier catalogue number M33. This galaxy is face on to us and while it can be seen in small telescopes and binoculars photography is needed to bring out the details
Newly discovered comet causing a stir: Comet C/2012 S1, currently beyond the orbit of Jupiter could well prove to be the highlight in the night sky next autumn.
Notoriously difficult to predict when talking about just bright comets will appear. This particular comet could well prove to be a spectacular naked eye object. On its inbound journey into the solar system the comet will pass very close to the sun and if as speculated this is its first visit into the inner solar system then providing the comet survives the fiery trip around the sun it could put on a spectacular show next autumn.
The spectacular comet Hale Bopp of 1997 was without doubt the comet of the last century and was an easy naked eye object visible for many months even visible before the skies had darkened completely. Will Comet C/2012S1 prove to be as spectacular we will have to wait and see?