Welcome to Ontario Parks’ “Eyes in the Skies” series. This will cover a wide range of astronomy topics with a focus on what can be seen from the pristine skies found in our provincial parks.
November usually brings our first snowfalls and the opportunity for great outdoor adventures.
Early dusk and late dawn give us almost 15 hours of darkness to observe the nocturnal splendors.
Here are our astronomical highlights for November 2023:
The sun continues to appear lower and lower in the sky as it reaches its lowest point at the time of the December winter solstice.
We now experience nights longer than days. While we decrease the amount of time for daytime activities, we can allow more time to appreciate the splendors of the night sky.
These are the sunrise and sunset times for November:
|November 1||November 15||November 30|
|Sunrise||8:06 a.m.||7:28 a.m.||7:49 a.m.|
|One||13:09||12:10 p.m.||12:14 p.m.|
|Sunset||6:12 p.m.||4:54 p.m.||16:42|
The moon has long captivated observers of all ages. Even a small pair of binoculars will reveal the moon’s craters.
The lunar phases of the November moon occur as follows:
The planets appear at night
The outer planets continue to put on a beautiful show and set earlier each night.
At sunset, Saturn, Neptune, Jupiter, Uranus, and Mars are visible in the night sky, and Jupiter and Mars are quite bright!
For more information about Mars, check out this blog post here.
For more information on the two largest planets, Jupiter and Saturn, see our blog post here.
Comets and meteor showers
There are two distinct Taurid meteor showers, the Southern and Northern Taurids.
The Southern Taurids (peaking on November 4 and 5) and their cousins, the Northern Taurids (peaking on November 11 and 12) are interesting meteor showers because, although they are rare in number, they can be extremely bright, often brighter than the brightest. planet, Venus.
Keep an eye out for these slow-moving meteors after midnight.
The other meteor shower that falls in November is the Leonids. This year, the peak of the Leonids (November 17-18) occurs just before the new moon, offering park visitors an excellent opportunity to see the numerous meteors.
Typically, an observer can see between 15 and 20 Leonids per hour at the peak. However, there have been some exceptionally rare cases where the Leonids occurred not as a meteor shower but as a meteor storm.
The Leonid meteor storm
In 1966, in the last few hours before dawn (as seen in western North America), people were seeing an estimated count not of 40 per hour, not 40 per minute, but 40 per second!
That would translate to almost 144,000 meteors per hour!
Since even in the dark skies of our Dark Sky Preserve Parks (Killarney Provincial Park, Lake Superior Provincial Park, and Quetico Provincial Park), only about 5,000 stars can be seen at any given time, the incredible number observed in 1966 is 30 times more than all visible stars!
While this year’s meteor shower doesn’t promise to give us more than 30 to 50 meteors per hour, it still offers a chance to see some nice meteors.
To learn more about meteor showers, check out our meteor shower blog for more information.
Featured Constellations: The Epic of Andromeda and Perseus
In this month’s edition, we trace an ancient Greek myth through six constellations.
Find this story of heroes, princesses and sea monsters here.
This completes our review of November skies…
Check back next month for more information on the winter solstice, the Geminid meteor shower, and Monoceros the Unicorn.