Solar Ephemeris for Kendal
- on Wednesday the 15th of November 2023:
- sunrise occurs 07:38
- sunset occurs 16:13
- Astronomical dark begins 18:17
- Astronomical dark ends 05:36 the next morning
Kendal Ephemerides for today are on our Welcome page
Moon Phase Chart
Leonids meteor shower – November 17/18. The Moon will be have little effect on visibility of these meteors as it will be near new moon. One of the better shows with the radiant inside the Sickle, the reverse question mark, of Leo. Typically, 10 to 15 meteors per hour but does have occasional very strong showings. Best after midnight.
The Milky Way is right over your heads and the asterism of the Summer Triangle consisting of Altair, Vega and Deneb still very prominent. This is a great time of year to see objects of interest in the constellations at the zenith: Cygnus, Lyra and Cassiopeia.
The most obvious star cluster is The Double Cluster (NGC 884/869) situated between Cassiopeia and Perseus. In addition, there is Caroline’s Rose, NGC7789, and M103 in Cassiopeia, M34 in Perseus, M29 and M39 in Cygnus for starters. The area is a joy to behold in binoculars on a dark night. For wide field imaging photographic targets, what could be better than M31, The Great Andromeda Galaxy and nearby telescopic M33. I find the Square of Pegasus acts as a good signpost to M31. To find M31, star hop from the corner nearest Perseus. This star is Alpheratz, magnitude 2. Following the line of the top of the square towards Perseus there is a fainter, magnitude 3 star, then and slightly higher is Mirach at magnitude 2. Turn a right angle ‘up’ towards the pole and at the second star (both around mag 4) you are almost there. In addition, there is the North America Nebula complex, NGC7000, in Cygnus and the California Nebula, NGC1499. With a tracked 70mm lens you could capture both NCC7000 and the Pleiades, M45, in one shot.
The crowning glory of planetary nebulae, the Ring Nebula, M57, is still a splendid fuzzy ring in a small telescope. Just 2° from Vega is The Double-Double, ε-Lyrae, a binary star in binoculars, but with a telescope each of these two stars is seen to be a double star itself. Whilst on double stars, you must look at Albireo, β-Cygni. This is a beautiful low power telescopic object the brighter star golden and the dimmer one blue. See photograph later. Similarly, Almach in Andromeda is a pretty colourful double and not too far away, roughly half way between Almach and Cassiopeia, is the planetary nebula M76, The Little Dumbbell in Perseus.
In the south, there are the two bright and large globular clusters M2 and M15, both about magnitude 6 and 12’ in diameter look good in binoculars or a small telescope.
Now the constellation Cetus, The Whale, is one I know little about. A quick Google tells me that it is surrounded by other water-related constellations: Aquarius, Pisces, Eridanus [not labelled on the chart but lower (south) in the sky]. It does contain one remarkable variable star – Mira ( ο Ceti), “the wonderful variable star Mira” which was the first non-supernova variable star discovered. It is a pulsating variable that changes brightness with an average period of 331 days as the star’s diameter shrinks and grows…
In addition, Kaffaljidhma, η-Ceti, is a rather close but lovely double star [magnitudes 3.6 and 6.2] with a separation of 2.6” and thus requires at least a telescope of 10cm aperture to separate them. The colours are usually described as yellow and blue although this is partly illusionary contrast effect given the known spectral types of the two stars. Actually, the system is a triple star but the faint third star [a magnitude 10 red dwarf at position angle 315°] is 840” [about half the angular diameter of the Moon] away.
In the east, the winter constellations are starting to appear with Orion just peeking up around 20:00. The Pleiades, M45, is easily seen and makes a good widefield photo-op especially with California Nebula, NGC1499, as mentioned earlier. A much more open cluster in Taurus is the vee of the Hyades with Aldebaran at one end. Scan through Auriga with binoculars and the trio of Messier objects, M36, M37 and M38, will appear as faint misty clouds if you have a dark sky. In Perseus, we have another open cluster, M34, and just beneath this and west of Mirfak (α-Per) is Algol, the prototype for a class of eclipsing variable stars. Usually magnitude 2.1, it drops to 3.4 every 2.86 days – (2 days 20 hours 49 min), a rather noticeable change