What’s up in Space

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KNOW YOUR NIGHT SKIES : THE WEEK'S NIGHT SKY

OUR SOLAR SYSTEM

Enjoy the night sky each week, as we give you the latest on stargazing. 

SEE WITH THE NAKED EYE 

  • The Sun is in the zodiacal constellation of Libra It sets around 08:07PM and rises around 06:02AM.
  • This week, the Moon is a waxing gibbous, it will become a full moon on Wednesday the 13th of November.
  • Mercury is in Libra. Is 106 million kilometres from Earth, about 6 light minutes away.
  • Venus is in Libra and rises around 07:08AM, is very close to the Sun and not visible. Is at 231 million kilometres from Earth or about 13 light minutes. 
  • Mars is visually in the zodiacal constellation Virgo, at a distance of 376 million kilometres, or just about 21 light minutes away, so communication with the red planet is very delayed now. 
  • Jupiter rises around 08:25AM, and is in the constellation of Ophiuchus at a real distance of 890 million kilometres or about 50 light minutes from Earth.
  • Saturn is visually in Sagittarius, and 1564 million kilometres away or 86 light minutes (1 hour and 35 mins away approx). 

A transit of Mercury is occurring very early on the 12 of November.  From New Zealand it will only be visible as the Sun is rising for another hour. Learn more about it and where to see live coverage

Jupiter and Saturn from Wellington this time of the year. Credit @Space_Samuel

 

SEE WITH BINOCULARS AND TELESCOPE

  • Uranus is in Aries. Early in the morning. It has a visual magnitude of +5.7 so under a very dark sky and if you have amazingly good eyes you might be able to see it, with the naked eye. It’s at 2819 million kilometres from Earth or about 2 hours and 50 light minutes away approx. 
  • Neptune is in the evening sky, in Aquarius at 4396 million kilometres from Earth. It takes light approximately 4 hours to reach us from Neptune. At a visual magnitude of +7.8 you will need binoculars or telescopes to see it. 
  • Pluto in Sagittarius. We cannot see Pluto with the naked eye, as it has a magnitude of 14.4 is 5128 million kilometres away, at about 285 light minutes – more than 4 hours and 30 light. 

Of course none of the planets make light of their own, what we see are the features of each planet illuminated by the light from the Sun that gets reflected by our Solar System companions.

After dark adaption and under the very best observing conditions, the average limiting magnitude of the human eye is about magnitude 6.5. 

STARS

Milky Way’s centre is flanked by Jupiter and Saturn and at sunset is almost on the western horizon, the edge of our galaxy is towards the constellation Orion which is rising from the east. 
Bright stars on the ecliptic are Antares and Shaula in Scorpius and Aldebaran in Taurus. 

If you wish to attend a detailed presentation about the night sky, come every first Tuesday of the month to Astronomy on Tap. During these evenings we extend our live sky presentation and go deeper into space. This is a great opportunity to share thoughts and findings with other people interested in space over a refreshments and nibbles.

PODCASTS

WHAT'S IN THE NIGHT SKY?

Listen here to the southern hemisphere night sky which is part of The Jodcast – a volunteer podcast about astronomy set up by astronomers based at the University of Manchester’s Jodrell Bank aiming to cover astronomy carried out all over the Earth and beyond.

 

DEEP SKY STARGAZING

There are beautiful objects you can see in the night sky, some are circumpolar and some are seasonal.

  • An in-depth look at the area between the Southern Cross and the Magellanic Clouds here.
  • Binocular Objects between Southern Cross and the Diamond Cross here.

From Wellington it is always a great time to learn the main asterisms (groupings of stars) that make the main constellations since our light pollution does allow us to observe only the brightest stars.

You can also observe craters on the Moon – here is a comprehensive map of it by Google Moon. 

Achernar and the two Magellanic Clouds are in a good position to observe in November.

THE MOON

On average, the Moon rises or, if it’s already in the sky, sets about 50 minutes later than the previous day, every day.

New Moon: Wednesday 27th November 04:05:51AM

First Quarter: Wednesday 4th December 07:58:36PM

Full Moon: Wednesday November 13th 02:34:40AM

Last Quarter: Wednesday November 20th 10:11:07AM

 

Data compiled with Sky Safari Pro

LAST WORD FROM SPACE PLACE

Keep an eye out for our astronomy and space courses coming up, details are in our What’s On section. We will start another Stargazing 101 course in the last quarter of the year. If you wish to attend, contact Space Place and put your name on the waiting list. 

At Space Place, we open our telescope for viewings every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday night if the weather is on our side. Alternatively, the planetarium live shows is a great place to see our current night skies.  Let us know how it went, or if you have any questions by visiting our Facebook.

Clear skies for the week ahead!

OPENING HOURS

Open 3 Late nights & weekends

Tuesday:  4pm – 11pm*
Friday: 4pm – 11pm*
Saturday: 10am –  11pm*
Sunday: 10am – 5:30pm*

*Last entry is 10pm and 5pm

Last entry at 5pm and 10pm

Closed Monday, Wednesday, Thursday

School bookings available Monday-Friday during school hours.

Closed on Christmas day

During school holidays we are open 7 days

ADMISSION PRICES

Adult: $14

Gold Card Holder / NZ Student (NZ ID required): $12

Child (4-16 years): $9

Preschool Child (0-3 years): Free

Family (2 adults and up to 3 children): $45

Friends of Museum Wellington: Free

Please note that children under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult at all times. 

Bookings are essential for all schools and tour groups.

PARKING

Parking is available at Skyline car park, located on Upland Road (charges apply). There are limited parking spaces outside Space Place reserved especially for mobility permit holders.

CONTACT US

HOW TO FIND US

40 Salamanca Rd, Kelburn, Wellington 6012 located at the top of the Cable Car, just a short stroll from the terminus.

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