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This website has been created by and is supported by a group of Boston, MA - area amateur astronomers. It is intended to be a convenient site to access news and information about astronomy and space-related activities of interest to the community and the public.




           November Astronomy-Related Events in the Boston Area  



Monday, November 9th, 2015, 5:30 pm setup, 6:30 pm event (cloud date: Nov. 10)

Sullivan Middle School Starparty
150 Draper Street, Lowell. MA


Thursday, November 12, 2015 8:00 PM - 10:00 PM

Amateur Telesciope Makers of Boston

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Topic and Speaker: Kelly Beatty, Pluto's Amazing Story

This month’s speaker will be Kelly Beatty, a Sky and Telescope Senior Editor and ATMoB member since 2004. His talk, “Pluto’s Amazing Story,” will bring us up to date on discoveries made by the New Horizons missions.   
 In July 2015, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft flew past Pluto after a 9½-year-flight. But really this historic encounter has been 85 years in the making, ever since 24-year-old Clyde Tombaugh discovered this enigmatic body at the edge of our planetary system. Today we realize that Pluto is among the largest objects in the Kuiper Belt, even though initially it was believed to be a body perhaps as massive as Earth. Kelly traces the history of Pluto — from predictions of its existence to the discovery of its moons to its “demotion” to dwarf-planet status. He then details what New Horizons has revealed about Pluto and Charon — truly the “odd couple” of our solar system. “Pluto’s Amazing History” will be of particular interest not only to astronomy enthusiasts but to the public in general. ATMoB members are encouraged to being family and friends.



Monday, November 16, 2015 - 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM (cloud date: Nov. 17)

Kane Elementary School Star Party

520 Farm Road, Marlborough, MA 01742

(Near Rt 85 and Rt 20), Masspike West to Rt. 9 (Boston Worcester Turnpike) – Exit 12 in Framingham MA – 30 West. Right on Framingham Road then Right on Farm Rd, School on left before airport


Thursday, November 19, 2015 7:30 PM - 10:00 PM

Public Observatory Night

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Cambridge, MA

Topic and Speaker:  Rediscovering Pluto, Kelly Beatty, Sky & Telescope magazine

In mid-July, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft flew past Pluto after a 9-1/2-year journey. But really this historic encounter has been 85 years in the making, ever since 24-year-old Clyde Tombaugh discovered this enigmatic body at the edge of our planetary system. Today we realize that Pluto is among the largest objects in the Kuiper Belt, even though initially it was believed to be a body perhaps as massive as Earth. This presentation traces the history of Pluto - from predictions of its existence, to the discovery of its moons, to its "demotion" to dwarf-planet status - and explores the amazing, unexpected findings revealed by New Horizons. An award-winning writer and communicator, Kelly Beatty specializes in planetary science and space exploration as Senior Editor for Sky & Telescope magazine.





Tuesdays (beginning March 31)

Clay Center Observatory

Dexter Southfield School

Brookline, MA

Brookline, MA

617-454-2795 (appoint. required)



Boston University

Boston, MA.
Open Night at Coit Observatory most Wednesdays 8:30 PM - 9:30 PM. 



Fridays (beginning March 13): 

Museum of Science  

Boston, MA 

"Astronomy after Hours" public viewing at Guilliland Observatory 8:30 PM - 10:00 PM.




The Sky Report for the Month of November 2015


Current Night Sky: At A Glance


Phases of the Moon:



Last Quarter Moon

November 3

7:24 AM EST

New Moon

November 11

12:47 PM EST

First Quarter

November 19

1:27 AM EST

Full Moon

November 25

5:44 PM EST


The Moon & Planets:



Planet Visibility:


In Evening (after sunset):

    Saturn, in SW (first week of month only)

    Neptune, in S

    Uranus, in SE 


 At Midnight:

    Neptune, in W

    Uranus, in SW


 In Morning (before sunrise):

    Jupiter, in SE 

    Venus, in SE

    Mars, in SE




  •     There are no comets visible brighter than magnitude 8.



  •     The Leonid meteor shower peaks on Nov. 17 – 18. The Moon sets around 10 - 11 PM, which leaves the optimum shower viewing times (after midnight) unhindered.   Expect rates of 15 meteors or so per hour. (See below.)







As November begins, the drama in the eastern morning sky continues. Jupiter rises first, followed by closely paired Venus and Mars.

Mercury puts in an appearance as well. A half-hour before sunrise, a few first magnitude stars are visible.

(November 1 at 5:45 AM EST).





Venus and Mars make their closest approach on the morning of November 3; here they are 40 arc-minutes – slightly more than the width of a Full Moon - apart.

 (The yellow circle in the illustration represents the field-of-view of typical 7x50 binoculars.) Mars shines at magnitude +1.7; Venus is at -4.4 - 275 times brighter!  (November 3, at 5:00 AM EST.)



                  On November 26, the Full Moon occults the first-magnitude star Aldebaran. These views depict the star 3 minutes before (left) and 3 minutes after the occultation. As seen from Boston, the star’s disappearance occurs just over an hour before sunrise; its reappearance takes place about 15 minutes before sunrise.

(November 26, 2015, 5:41 AM EST on left, 6:34 AM EST on right.)    



       The Leonids!


The Leonid meteor shower peaks on the 17th – 18th.  The Leonids are named after the constellation which hosts their radiant: Leo. That doesn’t mean that the Leonids appear only in Leo. In fact, few do; they can be seen anywhere in the sky.  But if you trace their trajectory backwards, their trails appear to radiate from an area in Leo (hence the term “radiant”). Leo rises about midnight (see diagram below.)  




The Leonids appear to come from a “radiant” in the constellation Leo,

which rises in the east around midnight.

November 18, 2015:  1:00 AM EST


Meteors are mostly sand-grained size particles of stone and iron debris left behind in space by passing comets. In the case of the Leonids, the debris was left by a previous passage of the comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle. Every November, Earth passes through the debris cloud, and these particles burn up as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere at over 40 miles per second at altitudes of 50-70 miles.


Meteors are most numerous and brightest between midnight and dawn, when the “forward facing” portion of Earth’s night hemisphere is plowing through the debris cloud. On some years, the Moon may be bright enough to swamp out the fainter meteors. On the 17th and 18th of this month, the Moon sets in the west about 9:53 PM and 11:00 PM, respectively – well before prime viewing time.     


This year’s shower is expected to produce rates of 12-15 meteors per hour under dark sky viewing conditions. In the past, though, the Leonids have been considerably more active. In the year 1833, a meteor “storm” occurred that was estimated to produce over 100,000 meteors per hour! (See the woodcuts below.)




In 1833, the Leonids produced a “meteor storm” of over 100,000 meteors per hour!


More recent meteor storms occurred in 1866, 1867, and 1868. During the last century, 1966 and the period from 1998 to 2000 produced high levels of activity. These peaks are commensurate with Tempel-Tuttle’s 33-year orbit around the Sun, but not every orbit seems to produce a meteor storm.



A Schedule of Events: November / December 2015   


Nov. 1 Sun. 2:00 AM EDT Switch from EDT to EST; 2:00 AM EDT becomes 1:00 AM EST
Nov. 2 Mon. - Harlow Shapley born 130 years ago (1885) (HCO dir. 1921 - 1952)
Nov. 3 Tue. 2:21 AM EST * Venus rises 41' to lower right of Mars (mags: - 4.3, + 1.7)
Nov. 3 Tue. 7:24 AM EST Last Quarter Moon
Nov. 5 Thur. 6:00 PM EST South Taurid meteors peak
Nov. 6 Fri. 5:23 AM EST * Moon 3° to left of Jupiter 1 hr. before sunrise
Nov. 7 Sat. 1:34 AM EDT Technical cross-quarter day (half-way between equnox and solstice)
Nov. 7 Sat. 2:30 AM EST * Moon rises 2° to lower right of Mars
Nov. 7 Sat. 6:00 AM EST * Moon 1.6° to lower right of Venus (daytime)
Nov. 7 Sat. 4:49 PM EST Moon @ apogee (405,720 km  / 252,103 mi )
Nov. 11 Wed. - Vesto Slipher born 140 years ago (1875) (discovered galactic redshift)
Nov. 11 Wed. 12:47 PM EST New Moon
Nov. 12 Thur. - Voyager 1 Saturn flyby 35 years ago
Nov. 12 Thur. 6:00 PM EST North Taurid meteors peak
Nov. 12 Thur. 5:00 PM EST * Moon 3° to right of Saturn
Nov. 13 Fri. 1:20 AM EST WT1190F (rocket stage? asteroid?) impacts Earth
Nov. 15 Sun.   Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10) @ perihelion
Nov. 17 Tue. 10:00 AM EST Mercury @ superior conjuncion
Nov. 18 Wed. 12:00 AM EST - 5:00 AM EST Leonid meteors peak (up to 15 meteors / hr) (no Moon)
Nov. 19 Thu. 1:27 AM EST First Quarter Moon
Nov. 19 Thur. 9:00 PM EST * Moon 3° to upper right of Neptune
Nov. 20 Fri. 6:00 PM EST Mars @ aphelion (1.67 A.U./ 249,287,000 km / 154,900,000 mi) from Sun
Nov. 22 Sun. 9:00 PM EST * Moon 3° to left of Uranus
Nov. 23 Mon. 5:01 AM EST Month's Brightest Morning Pass of ISS (-3.4)
Nov. 23 Mon. 12:00 PM EST Sun enters Scorpius
Nov. 23 Mon. 3:08 PM EST Moon @ perigee (362,817 km / 225,444 mi)
Nov. 25 Wed. 5:44 PM EST Full Moon ("Full Beaver Moon")
Nov. 26 Thur. 5:44 AM EST - 6:31 AM EST Moon occults Aldebaran
Nov. 27 Fri. - Bill Nye born 60 years ago (1955) ("TheScience Guy")
Nov. 29 Sun. 7:00 PM EST Saturn @ solar conjunction
Nov. 30 Mon. 8:00 AM EST Sun enters Ophiuchus
Dec. 2 Wed.   ESA LISA Pathfinder launch (prototype gravitational wave detector)
Dec. 3 Thur. 2:40 AM EST Last Quarter Moon
Dec. 4 Fri. 1:00 AM EST Moon 1.8° S of Jupiter
Dec. 5 Sat. 9:56 AM EDT Moon @ apogee (404,800 km / 251,531 mi)
Dec. 5 Sat. 10:00 PM EST Moon 0.1° S of Mars
Dec. 7 Mon.   Japanese Akatsuki spacecraft attemps Venus orbit insertion
Dec. 7 Mon. 3:25 AM EST - 6:59 AM EST Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10) near Moon and Venus
Dec. 7 Mon. 12:00 PM EST Moon 0.7° N of Venus
Dec. 7 Mon. 12:44 PM EST - 1:48 PM EST Waning crescent Moon occults Venus (daytime event)
Dec. 8 Tue. 4:12 PM EST Earliest sunset in Boston
Dec. 10 Thu 11:00 AM EST Moon 3.1° N of Saturn
Dec. 11 Fri. 5:29 AM EST New Moon
Dec. 12 Thu 11:00 AM EST Moon 7.2° N of Mercury
Dec. 14 Mon. 1:00 PM REST Geminid meteors peak (excellent, up to 120 / hr.) (active Dec. 4 - 17)
Dec. 17 Thur. 3:00 AM EST Moon 3° N of Neptune
Dec. 18 Fri. 10:14 AM EST First Quarter Moon
Dec. 18 Fri. 2:00 PM EST Sun enters Sagittarius
Dec. 19 Sat. 8:00 PM EST Moon 1.2° S of Uranus
Dec. 21 Mon. 4:00 AM EST Moon @ perigee (368,417 km / 228,924 km)
Dec. 21 Mon. 11:48 PM EST December Solstice 
Dec. 22 Tue. 9:00 PM EST Urside meteors peak
Dec. 25 Fri. 6:11 AM EST Full Moon ("Full Cold Moon")
Dec. 28 Mon. 10:00 PM EST Mercury @ greatest eastern elongation (20° W of Sun)
Dec. 31 Thur. 1:00 PM EST Moon 1.5° S of Jupiter


   (bold = cool or important)


       * = best time to see from Boston



A Preview of Major 2016 Events
Jan. 2 Earth @ perihelion (0.98330 AU)
Jan. 4 Quadrantid meteors
Feb. 6 Mercury @ greatest western elongation (26° W); Morning "Star
March 4 InSight Mars lander launch
Mar. 8 Jupiter @ opposition
Mar. 14 ESA ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter / Schiaparelli EDL launch
Mar. 19 March Equinox
Apr. 18 Mercury @ greatest eastern elongation (20° W); Evening "Star
May 9 Transit of Mercury
May 22 Mars @ opposition
May 30 Mars @ closest approach
June 3 Saturn @ opposition
June 5 Mercury @ greatest western elongation (24° W); Morning "Star
June 6 Venus @ superior conjunction
June 20 June Solstice
July 5 Juno Jupiter orbit insertion
July 4 Earth @ aphelion (1.01675 AU)
July 7 Pluto @ opposition
Aug. 16 Mercury @ greatest eastern elongation (27° W); Evening "Star
Sept. 2 Neptune @ opposition
Sept. 3 OSIRIS-Rex sample-return mission to asteroid Bennu launched
Sept. 22 September Equinox
Sept. 28 InSight Mars landing
Sept. 28 Mercury @ greatest western elongation (18° W); Morning "Star
Oct. 15 Uranus @ opposition
Oct. 16 ExoMars TGO/Schiaparelli separation
Oct. 19 ExoMars TGO Mars orbit insertion
Oct. 19 ExoMars Schiaparelli Mars landing
Oct. 21 Ceres @ opposition
Dec. 5 Mercury @ greatest eastern elongation (21° W); Evening "Star
Dec. 21 December Solstice
November 2015 Star Chart
        November 15, 2015, 9:00 PM EST