You need to wait until later in the month in order to see the two brightest planets. Venus will be visible as a very bright object low in the south-western sky, just after sunset, towards the end of November. And Jupiter, almost as bright, will be rising earlier and earlier in the eastern skies as the month goes by. It will be clearly visible in the constellation of Gemini from late evening towards end-November. For those with telescopes, and who know exactly where to look, the planet Uranus will be visible in the southern skies all month, in the faint and obscure constellation of Pisces.
Uranus is a planet that was unknown to the ancient Greeks, and to all subsequent astronomers, until Sir William Herschel was conducting a systematic survey of the stars in 1781 with his new large telescope. He came across what seemed to be a star that slowly moved relative to the background of other stars. At first, he speculated that it might be a comet. Over time, it became possible to calculate the orbit of this body, and it became clear that Herschel had discovered a new planet. At a stroke, Herschel had doubled the size of our Solar System, since Uranus is about twice as far from the Sun as Saturn, previously thought to be the outermost planet.
The Torbay Astronomical Society will be continuing with its usual series of meetings. We usually meet on two Thursdays every month, at Torquay Boys’ Grammar School in Shiphay Manor Drive, starting at 7.30pm.
On 7 November, Peter Grego will be talking to us on the topic “Observing the Moon”, in the school’s Business & Enterprise suite. At the 21 November meeting (provided we have a clear sky), we shall be observing NGC 457 (an open cluster of stars), M15 (a globular cluster) and Gamma Delphini (a double star), making use of our new telescope.
Visitors and new members are always welcome. There is a £3 charge for visitors to the lecture evenings, and a £2 charge for the observational evenings. Annual membership is a mere £15, with a reduction to £10 for those who are 65 or over.