The time between monsoons and snow also is the season between the objects in the bright summer Milky Way and some of the familiar objects in the winter constellations around Orion.
Other than a couple of favorite standbys in the early evening, such as the galaxy in Andromeda or the globular cluster in Hercules, there is a lack of easily visible nebulae and star clusters overhead.
However, there are still plenty of things to look at if you bundle up and take your mug of coffee or cocoa outside to enjoy the evening.
Venus is unmistakably bright as the evening star right now, but you will have to wait until after midnight before seeing Jupiter rise in Gemini. If you do wait up for Jupiter, the four Galilean moons should be easily visible with a pair of binoculars.
The Leonid meteor shower is often a good one, but this year the peak is expected right during the full moon, so I am not expecting it to be spectacular.
The International Space Station makes regular passes overhead, so maybe this is a month to catch a crossing. The link below will show numerous times to see it.
Beside the space station, many satellites can be seen right after sunset and just before sunrise. This is because they are so high as to still be in sunlight while we are in darkness on the ground. During the middle part of night, the satellites are in the shadow of the Earth and so will not be visible. If you have never seen a satellite, they can be almost any brightness, but will always move steadily across the sky. (If something blinks, that’s an airplane.)
A particularly memorable type of satellite event to watch for is an iridium flare. The set of iridium communications satellites are in nearly polar orbits, flying in north to south paths overhead. These satellites have large, flat, antennae that can reflect sunlight and cause an extremely bright flash of light if they catch the sunlight just right. When they flash, they can be even brighter than Venus. These flashes are so impressive that websites and mobile apps have been set up to alert you to them.
Comet ISON is still heading toward the sun, and as of this writing, was in one piece. This comet is visible through a telescope in the early morning right now, and will make its closest approach to the sun Nov. 28. Early predictions for comet ISON suggested it could be the “comet of the century,” but no one knows what will really happen when it gets so close to the sun. We might see nothing remarkable, but then again, we could be in for quite a treat.
firstname.lastname@example.org. Charles Hakes is an assistant professor in the physics and engineering department at Fort Lewis College and is director of the Fort Lewis Observatory.