Make it a habit, teach it to the young: lift your eyes to the sky and linger there a moment whenever you go outdoors. Whether to take a breath of fresh air or on your way somewhere, cultivate a three-dimensional view of your surroundings; include the sky in your awareness. Where the heavens meet the land, bathe in glowing pinks at sunrise and sunset, then alight on a crescent moon in morning or evening twilight. Recognize the seasons by the positions of the stars and the patterns they shape.
Closing in on the longest nights of the year, when stars appear as afternoon quickly turns to night, see Vega in the soft blue atmosphere high in the west at around 5pm. Now that Arcturus has departed the evening sky and Sirius rises late at night, Vega has moved into first place as the brightest star visible on November evenings. As darkness falls, see Altair appear to the left of Vega, then Deneb, above, creating the Summer Triangle.
With more than 14 hours of darkness, take care to keep house lights from unnecessarily illuminating the outdoors. Dimming and switching lights off and pulling shades and curtains over windows conserve energy and prevents light trespass beyond intended areas. Each of us is responsible for minimizing light pollution at home and in our communities. Like preserving natural landscapes for biodiversity, preserving access to clear skies that allow human contact with the cosmos is crucial to quality of life, to the fulfillment of human potential.
Please go to http://www.darksky.org/ to learn about and participate in “the important work of protecting our planet from the impact of light pollution, of saving billions of dollars in wasted energy, and giving millions of people the opportunity to see starry skies.”*
Let the moon help guide your eye to the planet Saturn (and possibly Mercury) for several days,centered on or near November 20. Bring binoculars.
Celestial viewing highlights:
November 13 – 17 before dawn, crescent moon with planets.
Friday, November 17 before dawn Leonid meteor shower in dark sky locations and before dawn Saturday the 18th: 10 shooting stars per hour, likelihood of fireballs.
Saturday, November 18, 6:42 a.m., New Moon.
Morning of the 23rd Mercury highest in the pre-dawn sky.
LED Streetlight Conversion