Welcome to the Ontario Parks “Eyes on 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 snows and the opportunity for some great outdoor adventures.
The early sunset and later sunrise provides us with almost 15 hours of darkness in which to observe nighttime splendors.
Here are our astronomical highlights for November 2022:
The sun continue to appear lower and lower in the sky as it drives to its lowest point at the time of the December Winter Solstice.
We now experience longer nights than days. While decreasing the amount of time for daylight activities, we can look forward to more time to appreciate the night sky’s splendours.
Here are the sunrise and sunset times for November:
|November 1||November 15||November 30|
|Sunrise||8:06 am||7:28 am||7:49 am|
|Midday||1:09 pm||12:10 pm||12:14 pm|
|Sunset||6:12 pm||4:54 pm||4:42 pm|
The moon has long captivated observers of all ages. Even a pair of small binoculars will reveal the craters of the moon.
November’s lunar phases of the moon occur as follows:
The planets make their appearance at night
The outer planets continue to put on a beautiful show and setting earlier each night.
By sunset, Saturn, Neptune, Jupiter, Uranus, and Mars are all visible in the evening sky with Jupiter and Mars being quite bright!
To learn more about Mars, check out this blog entry here.
To learn more about the two largest planets, Jupiter and Saturn, check out our blog entry 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 its cousin the Northern Taurids (peaking on November 11 and 12) are interesting meteor showers in that, while they are sparse in number, they can be extremely bright — often brighter than the brightest planet, Venus.
Watch for these slow-moving meteors after midnight.
The other meteor shower falling in November is the Leonids. This year, the peak of the Leonids (November 17 and 18) occurs just before new moon, offering park visitors an excellent chance to see the many meteors.
Usually, an observer can see up to 15 to 20 Leonids per hour at peak. However, there have been some exceptionally rare cases when the Leonids didn’t occur as a meteor shower but as a meteor storm!
The Leonid meteor storm
In 1966, in the last few hours before sunrise (as seen in western North America), people were seeing an estimated count of not 40 per hour, nor 40 per minute, but 40 per second!
That would translate into almost 144,000 meteors per hour!
Given that even in the dark skies of our Dark Sky Preserve Parks (Killarney Provincial Park, Lake Superior Provincial Park, and Quetico Provincial Park), one can only see about 5,000 stars at a given point in time, the incredible number that was observed in 1966 is 30 times more than all the stars visible!
While this year’s meteor shower does not promise to give us more than between 30 to 50 meteors per hour, it still offers the chance to see some good meteors.
For more information on meteor showers, please check out our blog on meteor showers for more information.
Featured constellations: the epic of Andromeda and Perseus
In this month’s edition, we trace an ancient Greek myth across six constellations.
Find this story of heroes, princesses and sea monsters here.
This completes our review of the November skies…
Check back next month to learn more about the winter solstice, the Geminid meteor shower, and Monoceros the Unicorn.