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Tour November’s Sky: Hello, Venus!

Thursday, November 3, 2016 6:18
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(Before It's News)

This is the last month you have a chance to spot Saturn. Look low in the west after sunset, and early in the month you’ll find it to the right of brilliant Venus. By month’s end it’ll be gone.

Venus, meanwhile, is dramatically obvious and getting higher in the evening sky with each passing evening. It will be with us all wither long.

To the upper left of Venus, look for ruddy-colored Mars. Due an interesting geometric arrangement with its orbit, Mars won’t be sinking as Saturn is, so we’ll be able to enjoy it for several more weeks.

The Moon’s phases are almost exactly in sync with the calendar right now. So after sunset in early November you can watch it grow from a hair-thin crescent over in the west, to half-lit on the 7th, to full on the 14th. By the way, have you ever wondered why we call that half-lit phase “first quarter”? It has nothing to do with how the Moon looks. First quarter means that the Moon has completed one quarter of its orbit since the last new Moon. The same reasoning applies to “last quarter” two weeks later.

Geometrically,  there’s something noteworthy about the full (Beaver) Moon on the 14th. On that date at about 6 a.m. Eastern Time, the centers of the Earth and Moon will be just 221,524 miles apart. The Moon hasn’t been this close to Earth since 1976, and it won’t be this close again until 2020. the underlying reason is that the Moon’s orbit isn’t a perfect circle; it’s slightly elliptical, or oval shaped.So the Moon will be about 7% closer than average and its disk about 15% bigger in area.

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