Majestic morning sky, plus meteors

Sunday November 11, 2012

Special to The Eagle

Although sunrise clocks in earlier now that we live by Eastern Standard Time, night meets day at not too unreasonable an hour to wake up and venture out to see the majestic morning sky before and into dawn.

It’s a stargazer’s paradise: Nine of the brightest stars and three planets captivate viewers these autumn mornings. Reminiscent of last month, the promise of meteor showers adds to the attraction.

If nothing will get you up to go outdoors in the dark before dawn, tonight’s North Taurid meteor shower should appeal to those who stay awake late at night. Shooting stars, with associated fireballs, are predicted to peak around midnight to 1 a.m. Look south for Taurus the Bull, whose triangular face is accented by a red eye, the star Aldebaran, near brilliant Jupiter.

For early risers, tomorrow at 5:40 a.m., an hour before sunrise, may well be the ideal time to catch a filament of a crescent moon with Saturn to its left near the horizon to the east. Dazzling Venus, known as the Morning Star, is above the moon.

Make a date to go out at 4:30 a.m. Saturday morning for the Leonid meteor shower.

Astronomers predict up to two dozen shooting stars per hour. Look to the constellation Leo the Lion in the east, identified by the backward question mark.

As late as 6:10 a.m. everyday, Venus and Jupiter are still brilliant, while the stars of Orion and Taurus, now in the southwest, are fading into the blue quilt of day.

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