Free Astronomy Newsletter Free Astronomy Newsletter
Courses and more...
Yet More...

Astronomy Know How Newsletter Archive

NB Links to external sites were active at the time of publication but cannot be guaranteed

Astronomy Know How
Helping you See the Night Sky - Newsletter No. 73 November 2012
©Astronomy Know How 2012

Happy Stargazing!

Welcome and thanks for subscribing to this my FREE! monthly newsletter. I hope that you enjoy it.

Important news this month:

A NEW online course called Discover the Night Sky...

Coming very soon, the launch of my new online course called 'Discover the Night Sky'. Aimed at beginners in astronomy and to quickly bring you on in the subject, it uses images, animations, video and clear text to help explain many of the concepts of the night sky, but without too much jargon (what's there will be explained fully), and no difficult maths! So please keep an eye on the website, as well as your 'inbox', as I will be emailing you to let you know the moment it's released so you can take advantage of any opening discount and of course my Facebook and Twitter accounts. As you can probably tell, I'm really excited about it. The first person I showed the final draft to said it looked 'fabulous'!

If you haven't seen my 'blog' yet, please take a look at I'm putting up useful bits of astronomical information and other items of interest there too.

Only two months to go!!!!! We are heading steadily closer to the end of 2012. Have you heard about the end of the Mayan calendar and the doom monger's predictions for the end of the world? Well, you may be interested in my story based on what might happen at the end of this year... it's all in my novel 'In The Lion's Paw', set at the end of 2012. It's been getting rave reviews on Amazon. If you haven't got your copy yet, please take a look at Amazon UK. You can have it as a Kindle eBook as well, both here and in America or in fact all over the world... Amazon USA

As well as all this, I am pleased to tell you that this Newsletter in not only available as a podcast from us here... But also from my friends at 'Astronomy FM' Internet Radio on Under British Skies

If you would like to keep up to date on a more immediate basis than just the monthly Newsletter, or the blog, then you can join my Facebook group
Astronomy Know How with Ninian Boyle by clicking 'like' on that page, or follow me on Twitter.

I put more up to date news and events on there. It would be great if you could join me!

So it's nearly ready. 'Discover the Night Sky' will be the definitive online introduction to astronomy that there is.

I wish you clear skies,



In this issue:
  1. November's Highlights
  2. The Moon This Month
  3. The Planets This Month
  4. The Leonid Meteors
  5. Deep Sky Highlights of November
  6. Other News
  7. News Links
  8. The Secrets of Astronomy
  9. Are you interested in Imaging?
  10. Contact Us
November's Highlights

There's plenty to see in the night skies this month. For naked eye observers the highlight will be the Leonid meteors. There's more about this later...

Jupiter is in conjunction with the Moon twice this month, once on the 1st November and again on the 28th. The closest approach on the 1st will be just after midnight (2nd November) when they will be just 1.5 degrees apart. Jupiter will be the bright 'star' just to the north of the Moon. On the 29th at 01:15, they will come even closer at only 1 - degree separation. You will be able to watch the Moon creep up on Jupiter for several hours before this of course. They will be located in the constellation of Taurus the Bull and close to the star clusters of the Hyades and Pleiades.

On the evening of 16th November you will have the chance to see the end of an occultation by the Moon of a bright star Mu Sagittarii. Look low down in the south-west at around 17:00 GMT (5pm) Mu Sagittarii will appear to pop out from behind a thin crescent Moon around 10 to 15 minutes later, depending on where you are located. The star is of naked eye brightness at magnitude 3.8 and even in the twilight it should be quite visible, but you may find binoculars will help.

The 11th of November at just around dawn low down in the south-east you'll find the lovely sight of the Moon and the bright planet Venus. The pair will be about 7 - degrees apart and will look stunning in the twilight sky. This is one for the early risers.

I usually mention here about solar activity. So as to keep up the tradition, I'm pleased to report that the Sun is still steadily increasing in activity and this means that our chances of seeing Aurora also increases. When large Solar flares are directed towards Earth, highly charged particles slam into the Earth's magnetic field and get channeled down the magnetic poles and meet the upper atmosphere. They cause the atoms of oxygen and nitrogen to fluoresce and this is what we see as an auroral display. So keep a eye on the northern horizon on dark clear nights of November. I will be posting some information and images on my blog soon all about the Aurora.

Back to List of Contents
The Moon This Month

The 1st November brings us a waning gibbous Moon, two days after full. If you are interested in taking pictures of the Moon, then this phase is good as the shadows are beginning to creep back over the Lunar surface, causing the features to take on a more three dimensional effect.

Last quarter Moon is on the 6th. Sadly, not many people get to see the last quarter and waning phases of the Moon as they are best seen in the small hours of the morning.

New Moon, when the Moon is in the same line of sight as the Sun to us, is on the 13th.

First quarter Moon, oddly named as it appear as a half lit disc to us, is on the 20th November. It's called 'First Quarter' because it has moved one quarter of its way in its orbit around the Earth since it was 'New'.

Full Moon occurs on the 28th. This one is interesting because it will be in partial eclipse when it rises above the eastern horizon at around 16:05 GMT. This means it will be partially bathed in the Earth's penumbral or outer shadow. Penumbral eclipses are very hard to see, but you might be able to tell that one edge of the brightly lit Moon is slightly darker than the other. The eclipse ends at 16:51 GMT

If you would like to know more about the Moon, then there is loads of information on my website here.
Back to List of Contents
The Planets This Month

At the end of the month, you may be able to spot the tiny planet Mercury shortly before dawn in the south-east. Bright Venus and fainter Saturn will form a line pointing towards it. If you are sweeping the area with binoculars be cautious of the rising Sun.

Venus is still a splendid sight in the pre-dawn sky. It will be becoming smaller from our point of view during the month as it gets further away from us in its orbit. It will be only 0.5-degrees away from Saturn on the 27th and will make a lovely sight in binoculars.

Without a doubt the highlight of November is the planet Jupiter. It shines like a beacon throughout the month in the constellation of Taurus the Bull and is high in our skies in the northern hemisphere. It lies just to the east of the V-shaped Hyades star cluster which marks the head of the 'Bull'. In binoculars you will be able to make out the disc and the ever active Galilean moons on their nightly dance about the giant planet. If you have a telescope, you will be able to make out the cloud belts. Use a variety of coloured filters if you have them to enhance these. Take a look on the evening of 9th November at around 22:00GMT and you should be able to see the famous Great Red Spot. This is joined by the shadow of Jupiter's innermost moon, Io and 15 minutes later the tiny disc of Io itself.

Mars is too close to the Sun for worthwhile observing now, although you may just catch it low down in the south-west just after sunset.

The planet Uranus is well on view this month. It's quite faint and so you will really need binoculars to spot it in the constellation of Pisces just to the east of the 'Circlet' asterism. It will appear as a faint small greenish disc in a small telescope.

Neptune is the most distant of all the planets and this makes it the hardest to see although like Uranus, it lies in Pisces and is quite well placed for observing. Without question you will need a telescope to detect it and it will seem like a very small pale bluish disc, but definitely not star like.

Back to List of Contents
The Leonid Meteors

The Leonid meteors are one of the favourites of the autumn nights. Will they be good this year?...

The Leonids have been known to produce meteor 'storms' when hundreds of shooting stars appear to streak across the firmament. However, it is unlikely that they will perform like this - this year. Having said that, we can never be completely sure with meteor showers, so it always pays to go out and look.

They take their name from the constellation from which they appear to streak across the sky. This is the 'radiant' point and is found in the 'sickle' asterism marking the Lion's head and mane. They are expected to produce around 15 meteors per hour, their ZHR or Zenithal Hourly Rate. This is an indication of the number of meteors which might be seen if all conditions are perfect. Suffice it to say, they never are, so don't expect to see as many meteors as this, but you should see a few. The Moon should be reasonably out of the way, so shouldn't affect viewing too much.

Leonids are fast moving meteors. The best way to see them is by looking in the top half of the sky, that is above the half way point from the horizon to the zenith or point directly above your head and perhaps directing your gaze toward the constellations of Taurus and Cancer. Good luck!

Above is an image of how the sky might look at 00:00BST on 17th November.
Back to List of Contents
Deep Sky Highlights of November

Now we are past the Autumnal Equinox we have longer, darker and unfortunately colder nights, but the plus side is that there are some wonderful sights to see using your naked eye, binoculars and a telescope...

The constellations of Cassiopeia and Perseus swing high in the south and south-eastern sky in mid-evening during November. Cassiopeia is readily recognisable from its 'W' or 'M' shape pattern. Perseus occupies the region of sky below and south-east of Cassiopeia down towards the Pleiades star cluster in Taurus the Bull.

Cassiopeia sits firmly in the belt of light which is the Milky Way and is packed full of star clusters and nebulae. The brightest of these is Messier 52 (M52) right on the border with Cepheus. It's a lovely open cluster which shows up well in binoculars and small telescopes. There are also several bright 'NGC' open clusters in this region, including NGC129 and NGC457 forming a shallow triangle with the middle star of the constellation, called gamma Cassiopeia.

This star is quite unusual and we are still learning a lot about its nature. It is a variable star, which means that it varies in brightness, in fact quite considerably and it also has at least two companion stars, making it a multiple star system. It is also a powerful source of x-rays.

If you head down towards Perseus from Cassiopeia, you will come to the famous 'Double Cluster'. These star clusters (NGC884 and NGC869) are just discernable with the naked eye and show up well in binoculars or a small telescope with a low power eyepiece. Surprisingly, these clusters were never included in Messier's catalogue.

The other most famous feature in Perseus is the star Algol or beta Perseii. This is a variable star with a short period. That is it appears to dip in brightness every 20 hours and 49 minutes. The reason it does this is because it is an eclipsing binary star. Both stars orbit around their common centre of gravity, like two ice skaters spinning around their joined hands. As the stars pass in front of one another they block a little of the light and so we see the dip in brightness. Algol is also known as the 'Winking Demon' due to the fact that the constellation is supposed to represent the Hero Perseus holding the head of the Gorgon - Medusa which he cut off. Algol is the Gorgon's eye. It is considered the unluckiest star in the sky!

Next month we shall look at a Bull and a Charioteer...

Back to List of Contents
Other News

Coming Soon! A new 'online' course - an introduction to astronomy called 'Discover the Night Sky'. It's be a long time in the making. I have taken my time in writing it because I wanted it to have the best and clearest information of any course of its kind, because as the advert says, 'you're worth it'.

It contains stunning pictures, animations, video and clear text in plain English to help take you from a novice to a seasoned astronomer in six modules. It even has interactive quizzes to help you learn. I have distilled decades of my knowledge of the night skies into this to help you the budding astronomer get the best out of you hobby as quickly as possible and without the 'pain' of trying to understand complicated jargon and mathematics. I showed a final draft to someone who said it looked 'fabulous!'.

I will be announcing the release of the course shortly on my website, my Facebook page and in an email to you. I really don't want you to miss it! So 'watch this space'!!


"I read it in two sittings and couldn't put it down."

The person concerned said this about my book'In the Lion's Paw', available as a paperback from a few book distributors both here and in the USA, especially from Amazon. So if you haven't got your copy yet, please go and order it now. It is also available in Kindle format from Amazon UK and Amazon USA you can also get the print version here

To find out more about the book if you would like, you can visit the In the Lion's Paw website.

Other Amazon readers have said:
"If you only read 1 book this year make it this one."
"Once you start reading this story you will be swept along through a tumultuous week in these characters' lives... "

If you need advice about purchasing equipment, then you can email me on I'd be happy to give you a few tips and point you to the right dealer who I think can help you with your purchase. No-one else gets this help; only YOU as a subscriber to my Newsletter!

If you would like more information about anything I've mentioned in this Newsletter, please email me and I'd be happy to explain further.


If you are on Facebook, please come and be 'fan' of my page 'Astronomy Know How with Ninian Boyle'. I'm planning to use it for lots of free information and tips on how to observe the night sky and also post up interesting events as they are set up. It will mean that you'll be the first to know about really useful things connected to your hobby, so join me on facebook

Oh! and you can follow me on Twitter too

Please take a look at and put you pictures up on our image gallery here - and if you have any difficulties please contact us so we know about it and can either help you or sort out any problems. Thanks.

If there is a course or talk that you would like me to cover, I would invite you to please let me know. I'm keen to provide you with the information that YOU want, rather than that which I think you might like. So please tell me
Back to List of Contents
  Here are some links to some other recent news stories that I thought you would find interesting...

'Zombie planet' Fomalhaut b back from the dead
Just in time for Halloween, astronomers have announced that 'zombie planet' Fomalhaut b is, after all, real.

Astronomers report dark matter 'halos' may contain stars, disprove other theories
Could it be that dark matter "halos" - the huge, invisible cocoons of mass that envelop entire galaxies and account for most of the matter in the universe - aren't completely dark after all but contain a small number of stars? more...

Astronomers Find Ultimate Oxymoron: A Small Supermassive Black Hole
There’s jumbo shrimp and accurate rumors; now there’s even a mini supermassive black hole more...

Scientists could aim derelict telescope for moon impact
The European Space Agency's Herschel space telescope, due to end its mission observing the infrared universe in March, may be sent on a crashing course toward the moon next summer to search for water embedded beneath the lunar surface, according to scientists. more...

How tricky is building NASA's James Webb Space Telescope?
Even the test tools need testing

Super-sub-zero tests at Marshall Space Flight Center this summer were the latest phase of the devilishly detailed process NASA is using to make sure its James Webb Space Telescope is ready for its one-way trip to probe the beginnings of the universe in 2018. more...

Back to List of Contents
  Discover everything that you REALLY need to know about telescopes and how to find interesting things to look at in the night sky...

You can find all the information that you really need in my online course. It gives you all the essential information to be a good astronomer, without lots of jargon or difficult maths. You'll get loads of free bonuses and it also has videos and animations to help make the explanations clear and concise. So if you want to know what Sir Patrick Moore wished for...

...please take a look at my eCourse called
'Basic Astronomy with a Telescope'. It's what Sir Patrick wished he'd had when he started out in astronomy!

Back to List of Contents
  Are you interested in Imaging?

You can learn how to take stunning images of the night sky with your digital SLR camera that will amaze your friends and family with the eBook
DSLR Astrophotography - A Beginners Guide which I co-wrote with my friend Jon Walton...

Back to List of Contents
To contact us

Telephone me on +44(0)208-144-1091

or contact me by email

You are receiving this newsletter because you filled in a form on the Astronomy Know How Web site on {!sign date long} but you can change your email address by which we contact you, or unsubscribe if you no longer want the newsletter or think you have been subscribed incorrectly by scrolling down and use the link below

Back to List of Contents