Mercury Transit, Leonid Meteor Shower, Hudayriat Island’s “Constellation Night”, and more this November 2019

Mercury Transit, Leonid Meteor Shower, Hudayriat Island’s “Constellation Night”, and more this November 2019

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There is a MAJOR astronomical event happening this November and it won’t happen again until 13 years later—the Mercury transit.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is fortunate to witness this rare treat right before sunset when the smallest planet of the Solar System skirts across the Sun as seen from here on our planet.

But since this transit will take place late in the afternoon, we’ll only be able to witness its initial stages. And that’s from 4:36 P.M. until 5:35 P.M.

If you wish to catch this rare phenomenon, we strongly advise you to use protective equipment like filtered solar telescopes or solar glasses during observation to avoid eye damage.

Planet Mercury last swung in front of the Sun last May 9, 2016. Transits of this planet in front of the Sun occur normally in May or November. The next one after the November 11 transit will be on November 13, 2032.

Visibility map of the Transit of Mercury 2019. Notice that the event shall take at sunset in the UAE. (Illustration courtesy of inthesky.org)

Transit of Mercury on November 11 2019 from LarryKoehn on Vimeo.

This little planet’s show doesn’t stop here though. On November 28, planet Mercury will be at its greatest western elongation or its highest point in the night sky from the Sun as seen here on Earth. Just a few moments before sunrise, Mercury can be seen at 14° above the eastern horizon.

While Mercury is moderately bright (at apparent magnitude of -0.6), observing it will be quite a bit of a challenge because of the twilight glare and the planet’s proximity to the Sun.

Illustration of Mercury at Greatest Eastern Elongation (about 11° above the eastern horizon) right after sunset on November 28, 2019, at 6 A.M. (not to scale). (Illustration courtesy of Stellarium)

Leonids to shower the month of November

A significant meteor shower will peak on November 17 and 18, but because the Moon will be quite a presence in the night sky at this time, it might not be able to meet every sky watcher’s expectation.

Under completely dark, moonless and cloudless skies, the Leonid meteor shower is estimated to showcase 10 to 15 meteors per hour. These meteors are made of the space debris of Comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle scratching the Earth’s atmosphere as our home planet plows through the debris’ path.

But since the Moon will be at its waning gibbous phase, it can reduce the actual number of meteors expected to be seen. Still firm about observing the shower? Here’s a tip: look at the direction of the Leo constellation. This is where the meteors will appear to radiate, and hence, the meteor shower’s name.

The position of Leonids radiant (Graphic Courtesy of Stellarium)

Al Sadeem participates in “Constellation Night”

On November 13, the Observatory is slated to partake in Hudayriat Island’s “Constellation Night,” where Abu Dhabi residents are offered the best experience in astronomy and stargazing.

Kids will get the chance to immerse themselves in a variety of interesting space-inspired activities. They will also learn about everything from meteors and meteorites to planets and galaxies. We will also hold an engaging talk and guide you in using the telescope setup to spot your favorite planet or another cosmic object in the night sky.

As of this writing, the registration for the event has now been closed. But fret not, because you’ll definitely see more of us in Hudayriat Island next month! (And hopefully, in the coming year, too.) Like us on Facebook, and follow our Instagram and Twitter accounts for the latest updates.

The “Constellation Night” is part of the Department of Community Development Abu Dhabi’s ABU DHABI MOMENTS campaign, where “a curated calendar of events is created to cross cultures, ages and interests and build a strong sense of community spirit across the UAE capital.”You can also visit https://www.abudhabimoments.ae/ for more info about the “Constellation Night.”

Moon-Saturn conjunction bookends November night sky show

This month, the Moon and Saturn will appear close to each other in the sky twice—on November 2 and on November 29. To easily spot the pair, just find the Earth’s natural satellite in its bright, waxing crescent form at the southwestern horizon right after sunset, and near it would be a bright yellow-orange “star” that is the ringed planet. During these so-called conjunctions—or the apparent meeting or passing of two or more celestial bodies—planets Venus and Jupiter will be spotted dancing nearby.

In addition, it will then be on November 24, that these same planets will also meet up for their own planetary conjunction. The brighter Venus passes 1.5 degrees south of Jupiter, the distance of which is like the width of your index finger at an arm length, according to Earthsky.

The November 2 Moon-Saturn Conjunction at around 6:30 PM (not to scale). (Illustration courtesy of Stellarium)

The November 29 Moon-Saturn Conjunction at around 6 PM (not to scale). (Illustration courtesy of Stellarium)

The November 24 Venus-Jupiter Conjunction at around 6 PM (not to scale). (Illustration courtesy of Stellarium)

Other nighttime delights to see in November

As the winter season settles in, several dazzling and famous constellations and deep-sky objects will be seen during nighttime and the early morning hours of the day. To name a few, look out for the Double Cluster in Perseus, Heart Nebula, the Great Orion Nebula, Andromeda Galaxy, and the Pleiades or more popularly known as the “Seven Sisters.”

Meanwhile, dimmer and distant planets of Uranus and Neptune, which can only be seen with larger aperture telescopes, will appear at sunset until the small hours of the night.

Lastly, the red planet Mars, which returned from its summer break in October, can still be observed in beginning three in the morning until sunrise.

(Clockwise) Planet Saturn, Andromeda Galaxy, the Pleiades, Double Cluster in Perseus, and the Orion Nebula all taken from Al Sadeem Observatory. (Image Credit: Al Sadeem Astronomy)

Sun and Moon Schedule

Sunrise: Between 6:28 A.M. and 6:48 A.M.

Sunset:Between 5:42 P.M.and 5:33 P.M.

Full Moon: November 12

New Moon: November 26. It is predicted that the lunar phase will occur on this day. However, the month transition from Rabi al-Awwal to Rabi al-Akhir shall take place three days later in accordance with the Hijri Calendar 1441.

The Full Moon taken from Al Sadeem Observatory last October 16, 2019. (Image Credit: Rejie Acope/Al Sadeem Astronomy)

REFERENCES

Astronomy Calendar of Celestial Events 2019. (n.d.). Retrieved from Sea and Sky: www.seasky.org/astronomy/astronomy-calendar-2019.html

Calendar of Astronomical Events. (n.d.). Retrieved from In-The-Sky.org: http://in-the-sky.org/newscal.php?year=2019&month=11&maxdiff=4

Islamic calendar 2019. (n.d.). Retrieved from Calendar.sk: https://calendar.zoznam.sk/islamic_calendar-en.php

Sunrise and sunset times in Abu Dhabi, November 2019. (n.d.). Retrieved from timeanddate.com: https://www.timeanddate.com/sun/united-arab-emirates/abu-dhabi?month=11&year=2019

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