What’s up in the November sky

What’s Up for November 2015? See all the phases of the moon by day and by night.

What’s Up for November 2015? See all the phases of the moon by day and by night.

November weather can be challenging for backyard astronomers, but the moon is a reliable target, even when there are clouds.  The moon takes about 29 days to go around the Earth once. And it also takes the moon about 29 days to spin once on its axis. This causes the same side of the moon to always face the Earth.

On Nov. 3, the moon reaches last quarter when it rises at midnight, and sets at noon. This is a great time to see the moon in the morning sky.

On Nov. 11, the new moon isn’t visible. The moon is between Earth and the sun, and the unlit side faces Earth.

In the days after the new moon, the slender crescent gets bigger and brighter. Look just after sunset, on Nov. 13 and 14  near the setting sun in the western sky over Metchosin.

The next phase – on Nov. 19 — is called the first quarter, because the moon has travelled one-quarter of its 29-day orbit around Earth.

The moon rises at noon and sets at midnight, so you can see it in the afternoon sky. It will rise higher in the sky after dark. Don’t forget, just like the sun and all the planets, the moon rises in the east toward Mount Baker, and sets in the west over the Sooke Hills. You recall we call the “arc,” the ecliptic or in “Oak Bay speak,” the Salish Walk of the Planets.

That’s when you can look for the areas where all six of the Apollo missions landed on the moon. You won’t see the landers, flag or footprints, but it’s fun and easy to see these historic areas with your own eyes or with binoculars. Look for three dark, smooth maria — or seas. The middle one is the Sea of Tranquility. You can see the images on the Cattle Point website at cattlepointstarpark.org

Apollo 11 landed very near a bright crater on the edge of this mare in 1969.

The Apollo 15, 16 and 17 landing areas form the points of a triangle above and below the Apollo 11 site.

The full moon is the next phase, on the 14th day of the lunar cycle, Nov. 25. It rises at sunset and is visible all night long, setting in the west at sunrise. This is a great time to see the impact rays of some of the larger craters.

You can learn about all of NASA’s historic and current lunar missions, and all of NASA’s missions at nasa.gov.

Kids of all ages, we hope you will join us for a special global sky-watching event at Cattle Point Urban Star Park at 7 p.m. next Saturday, Nov. 7. It’s called CE-5 and will be a great time to scan the horizon, even on a cloudy evening, looking for UFO’s and pondering the vastness of the universe. Bring your chair, blanket and hot chocolate. (See story below for more details).

Dark Skies to all friends of Cattle Point Star Park.

Bill Smith and the RASCals of Cattle Point are volunteers at Cattle Point DARK SKY Urban Star Park.

This summary is from the transcript of “What’s Up In November 2015” by NASA announcer and astronomer Jane Houston Jones with specific permission for localization to Cattle Point Urban Star Park and the Oak Bay News.