6 Sky Events This Week: Pegasus Flies While Mars Visits a Stellar Snow Globe

A meteor shower looks lukewarm, but Mars heats up a snowy star globe this week for stargazers.
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Messier 22 (M22) sits in the constellation Sagittarius about 10,400 light-years away.


The moon rides a winged steed and winks at the red eye of Taurus, the Bull, to the delight of sky-watchers this week, while Mars plays with a stellar snow globe.

To see the moon ride Pegasus, look toward the high southern sky in the early evening on Monday, November 3, to spot the waxing gibbous moon. It points the way to the Great Square of Pegasus, the mythical winged steed.

To the upper right of the moon, search out the upside-down front half of the legendary winged horse. Pegasus is easy to track down, thanks to the four bright stars that mark its chest. By the new year, the constellation will be setting in the west in the early evenings.

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The moon parks next to Uranus just below the Great Square of Pegasus.


Moon and Uranus

After nightfall on Tuesday, November 4, the seventh planet from the sun, Uranus, will pass near the moon.

The green giant will appear about 4 degrees from the moon—a bit less than the width of your middle three fingers held at arm's length.

The green-colored ice giant is four times the width of Earth, but since it orbits just over 1.6 million miles (2.6 billion kilometers) away from Earth, it's barely visible to the naked eye at magnitude 5.7—and only in very dark, pristine skies.

With the glare from the nearby moon, binoculars will be your best bet for spotting Uranus.

Taurid Meteors

The near-full moon does not bode well for the Wednesday, November 5, peak of the southern Taurid meteor shower.

But while the fainter shooting stars will likely be lost in the full moon's glare, some of the brightest fireballs may shine through. The Taurids, which usually peak with a modest ten meteors per hour, should produce their best moments late on Wednesday heading into the predawn hours on the next day.

Individual meteors will radiate out from the shower's namesake constellation, Taurus, the Bull, now visible high in the southeastern sky in the late evenings. Look downstream from Taurus to catch sight of them.

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Mercury will join the bright star Spica at dawn close to the southeast horizon.


Mercury and Spica

Early-bird sky-watchers looking toward the southeast about 45 minutes before sunrise on Thursday, November 6, can catch the innermost planet as it joins Spica, the lead star in the constellation Virgo, the Maiden.

The 250-light-year-distant star will appear to the right of the faint planet, separated by only 5 degrees, which is equal to about the width of three middle fingers held at arm's length.

To catch this cosmic odd couple, make sure you find an observing locale that has a clear view toward the east and look about 15 degrees above the horizon. Binoculars should help in your hunt.

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Look for Mars shining low in the southwestern sky after dusk with globular cluster M22 next door.


Mars and Snow Globe

After nightfall on Thursday, November 6, look for the red planet less than 1 degree from majestic globular cluster Messier 22 (M22), hanging low in the southwest.

The ball-shaped cluster 10,400 light-years away will make for a stunning sight as it hangs less than 1 degree away from the upper right side of the red planet.

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This close-up view shows what Mars and M22 globular cluster looks like through a backyard telescope using a wide-angle eyepiece.


Shining at 5.1 magnitude, M22 is considered one of the skies' finest deep-sky treasures. It is tucked away in the constellation Sagittarius, and you can find it easily now thanks to its proximity to the planet next-door.

Home to some 500,000 stars, the cluster appears about as large in the sky as the full moon, but you will need binoculars (or better yet a backyard telescope) to see details.

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Look for the moon next to bright orange Aldebaran rising in the eastern sky on November 8, 2014.


Bull's Eye and the Moon

After supper on Saturday, November 8, look for the waning gibbous moon to rise next-door to one of the brightest stars in the night sky, making for a stunning sight.

Luna will park 1.5 degrees to the left of 66-light-year-distant Aldebaran, the red eye of Taurus, the Bull, a constellation well known to most stargazers.

Happy hunting!

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