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Title:Moon and PlanetsDate:2011-4-19
 
With Venus out of the evening sky, all eyes are on Jupiter as it shines brightly in the southeast. Venus will re-emerge later in the Month as a “morning star” along with Saturn.
Jupiter is shining like a steady beam at magnitude -2.7. The planet does not twinkle like stars because of its nearness to us, and it appears bigger than a simple point of light in the sky. Using binoculars or a telescope, you can see the cloud surface of the planets and even catch a dark band stretching across it or maybe even the Great Red Spot (which appears more of a pinkish grey colour). Its four largest moons also change position each evening, circling in front and behind it and appearing close by Jupiter’s sides.
Jupiter is still close to Uranus, but the two are drifting farther apart for the next couple months before they will move back into close quarters in January 2011. On November 15 and 16, you will find the moon quite near to Jupiter.
An interesting challenge if you have a good western horizon and the weather is clear will be on November 20th when Mercury and Mars pass less than two degrees from each other. Mercury will be the brighter of the two at magnitude -0.4 in the west. Start looking right just after sunset as the two slowly emerges from the twilight glow just before they set. Mars will be to Mercury’s upper right and dimmer at magnitude 1.4.
Saturn will also reappear in November as a “morning star” but it will be difficult to spot at the beginning of the month since, like Venus, it will rise just before the Sun and will be hidden in the morning twilight sky. By the end of the month, though, it will rise just over 2 hours before the sun in a darker sky among the stars of Virgo. One interesting advantage of the fact that Saturn’s rings are still quite edge-on means that the few brighter members of Saturn’s sixty two moons are much easier to see in a moderately sized telescope than they usually are as they would usually be hidden from our view on earth by the rings.
November’s Moon
Besides the moon’s meeting with Jupiter on November 15 and 16, it will also pass just below the Pleiades star cluster and above Aldebaran and the Hyades on November 21. This is also the date of the full moon. Three days later, you can watch the moon rise a few hours after sunset near the twin stars of Castor and Pollux in Gemini.
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