Mon-Fri 9am-5pm
Saturday 9am-6pm
Sunday 11am-6pm
Tonight's Sky - Kirkpatrick Planetarium at Science Museum Oklahoma
Tonight's Sky - Kirkpatrick Planetarium at Science Museum Oklahoma

Red Dirt Astronomy

Whether your passion is for the Red Dirt of Oklahoma or that of the Red Planet

Here's your guide to the stars this month!

Explore the night sky each month with Kirkpatrick Planetarium Director Tom Arnold! Each month Tom will provide a sky chart, created using Digistar Technology, and a viewing guide with labeled constellations that are visible from inside Oklahoma City. You’ll be able to locate which prominent stars and planets are located in the evening sky and learn about the month’s astronomical events.
 
Tom has had a life-long passion for the night sky, with his early fascination leading to a professional career in astronomy. Whether you consider yourself an astronomer or not, we hope that by exploring Oklahoma’s night sky and learning how to identify stars and constellations, you find a similar sense of wonder. Below you will find information to discover our universe, just by looking up. 
 
Join Tom and our other planetarium educators for live planetarium shows daily!

To use the monthly star chart, hold the chart overhead, with the chart’s north marker pointing north.

Download the chart!

Photo of The Milky Way

The Sky in November

Thur. 4th New Moon
Fri. 5th Uranus closest to Earth
Sun. 7th Daylight Saving Time Ends
Mon. 8th Venus 1o south of the moon
Wed. 10th Mercury is 1o from Mars
Thur. 11th First Quarter Moon
Wed. 17th Leonid Meteor Shower Peak
Fri. 19th Full Moon
Sat. 27th Last Quarter Moon

 

 

 

Saturn - Tonight's Sky - Kirkpatrick Planetarium

The Planets in November

Mercury – The planet makes a very bright appearance in the morning twilight early this month. As the month progresses, the planet will become harder and harder to locate and disappear in the sun’s glow by mid-month.

Venus- An extremely bright object in the western sky, Venus will dominate the early evening. The planet will appear to rise higher in the sky each evening, yet it is actually sinking toward the sun due to the movement of the ecliptic.

Mars – Now opposite the sun from Earth, the planet becomes slightly visible in the pre-dawn sky by mid-month, low in the south-east.

Jupiter- Very bright all month in Capricorn, Jupiter presents a great telescopic object as it moves westward toward the setting sun.

Saturn- Leading Jupiter across the sky, Saturn presents another great telescopic object in the evening sky. The crescent moon will pass close to the planet on the 10th.

Uranus- For observers with a good pair of binoculars or a telescope, Uranus will be well placed for observation this month as it reaches its closest point to Earth on the 5th, only 2.6 light-hours (1,739,100,000 miles) away!

Neptune- In the evening sky among the stars of Aquarius, the planet will be well placed all month for telescopic observation. The small blue orb will be visible even in small telescopes.

Object of the Month

The iconic “Pillars of Creation” in the Eagle nebula from the Hubble space Telescope have been seen many times by people around the globe. Yet they represent only one such location of objects of that type.

During November the great constellation Cassiopeia is prominent, high in the eastern sky after sunset. This majestic constellation is home to many fascinating objects which best reveal themselves in photographs because they are so dim and difficult to see visually, even with a telescope. A very good example of this is the Heart Nebula, a vast area of the sky which contains several beautiful and interesting clouds of glowing gas.

Yet buried deep inside the Heart nebula is a tiny cluster of stars called simply Melotte 15, a group of extremely young, hot and energetic stars embedded in interstellar gas and dust.

Seen at the center of the image is our star cluster, connected by enormous tubes, “pillars”, of molecular hydrogen, oxygen, sulfur and other elements in an area about 15 light-years across and 7,400 light-years from Earth. The turbulent nature of the area is due to the intense radiation streaming outward from the stars in a type of “stellar wind” which moves the gases in shock waves within the nebula. These stars are very young, only about 1.5 million years old. They release tremendous amounts of energy every second and create the shock waves.

Through a large telescope, 8 inches or larger, the cluster is easily seen. Yet the dim nebulosity which surrounds the stars requires long exposure photography.

Leonid Meteors
One of the best meteor showers of the year will be greatly hindered by the presence of the nearly full moon. Yet if you are away from the city, an observer may be able to see some meteors.

 

The Leonids are known for producing “meteor storms.” The great “storm” of 1833 produced more than 100,000/hour. But this year 10-15/hour is what is predicted, mainly due to the bright, waxing, gibbous moon. If you do go looking for the Leonids, use the finder chart below as an aid in locating where to watch---east, near the horizon.