The Sky This Week, November 29-December 5

“The Sky This Week” appears every Tuesday. It is written by Ian Clarke, Director of the Hatter Planetarium at Gettysburg College.  The planetarium offers regular educational presentations about the stars and the skies; there’s something for early elementary through adults. Field trip requests are welcome. NOTE: field trip request form for Fall 2022 is now live, and the schedule of free public shows has been posted.  The next public shows are Thursday, December 1, at noon and Sunday afternoon, December 4; see links above for details.

The night sky this week is dominated by the waxing moon and three bright planets. As they have been through the fall, the planets Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are arrayed in a widely-spaced line from east to southwest. Brilliant white Jupiter and reddish Mars are far brighter than Saturn, and in fact, are currently brighter than any natural object in the night sky except for the moon. The moon will be at the first quarter phase and November 30, when you’ll find it in between Jupiter and Saturn. The moon marches eastward each night about the width of a fist held at arm’s length each night. Look for it near Jupiter on the night of December 1 (see illustration). The closing nights of the week will see the moon moving toward Mars but not quite reaching the vicinity of that planet until next week.

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Ian Clarke is the director of the Hatter Planetarium at Gettysburg College. In addition he has taught introductory astronomy labs and first-year writing there for over 30 years (not necessarily all at the same time). He was educated at Biglerville High School, the University of Virginia, and the University of Iowa. He lives in Gettysburg.

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