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Gibbous Moon & Alpha Monocerotid Meteor Shower
November 15, 2019
Sure, there's stars out at night, but right now, there's a moon out in the morning... I'm Matt Pelsor... and this is your Weekend Sky Report. There was a full moon this past Tuesday, which means this weekend the moon is in the waning gibbous phase. Waning moons are out in the morning, and this week's mostly clear skies have given us a good view--particularly those of us who drive west into work. If we get clear skies this weekend, take a moment to look west at the gibbous moon. If you have a telescope, see how much you can make out in the daylight. You'll probably be surprised at just how much you can see, even with the sun washing out most of the dimmer details. Another thing to look forward to will be a lesser-known meteor shower that's expected this coming Thursday night. Astronomers who crunch the probability numbers for meteor showers predict that this year's Alpha Monocerotid meteor shower could produce a burst of around 100 meteors in just 15 minutes, but that burst could also last up to 40 minutes--we just don't know for certain. This was predicted by looking at a similar burst in 1995 when circumstances were nearly identical. To see it, look to the east no later than 11:15 this coming Thursday night. Find the three bright stars that make up the winter triangle--Sirius, the brightest star in the sky; Betelgeuse, Orion's right shoulder; and the dimmer of the three, though still very bright, Procyon at the bottom. The radiant for this meteor shower is predicted to be right around Procyon. Bundle up though, because it could take until just before midnight for the peak. If you see it, you'll be watching the ancient remnants of a comet we haven't yet identified, hitting the Earth's atmosphere at over 140,000 miles per hour. I'm Matt Pelsor--happy skywatching.