Farewell DST, hello Orion!

The two maps show the sky facing east on Nov. 3, when daylight saving time was still in effect, and tonight. Losing an hour makes the stars appear to move an hour westward, raising Orion up in the east at the same time on the clock. Created with Stellarium

Since dropping Daylight Saving Time last weekend you’ve probably noticed how swiftly evening darkness descends. The photojournalist part of me craves daylight, especially if I need to shoot a feature photo for my newspaper’s local news section. It’s not easy to find or photograph people out and about during twilight.

But there are compensations. One of them is the swift kick the stars get once DST is done. You may have noticed last week around 9:30 p.m. local time that Jupiter and his constellation buddies Taurus and Orion grazed the treetops low in the eastern sky.

With our return to standard time, the stars of the eastern sky are up an hour earlier, while those in the west set an hour earlier. If you’re a fan of Orion and Jupiter – and who isn’t? – you don’t have to stay up so late to see them. Meanwhile, you’d better get out early if you want to catch the late summer-early fall stars. They’re all in the western sky and getting the boot an hour sooner.

The secret to this remarkable sleight of hand is simple – 9:30 p.m. daylight time is the same as 8:30 standard time. For our clocks to read 9:30 standard time we have to wait an additional hour, during which time Orion sneaks up from below the horizon and Jupiter vaults higher in the east.

Many of the meteors in this composite photo belong to the Taurid meteor shower, which remains active through the weekend. The bright object at lower right is the moon. Credit: John Chumack

Having Taurus the Bull nosing up earlier is a good thing because the Taurid meteor shower’s putting on a decent show. I wish I could chime in with my own observations, but the sky’s been overcast here. Not so for astrophotographer John Chumack of Dayton, Ohio. He grabbed some great video stills yesterday morning at the start of the shower’s peak activity.

“The meteors were nice and slow … burning up and often leaving small afterglows (trails),” writes Chumack. “Not bad for a minor shower.” The Taurids will continue to fling meteors our way through the weekend. Click HERE for more information on how to view them.

7 thoughts on “Farewell DST, hello Orion!

  1. Yes, Taurids (or Halloween fireballs, as i know read on Wiki they’re also called) are nice add-on to this year’s Jupiter-Vesta-Ceres +Taurus/Orion explosive combination. I spotted a small Taurid yesterday night, it was a nice surprise. Sorry you had overcast, also here in Italy these days good weather nights are isolated.

    • Giorgio,
      Yes, there’s a lot happening in the eastern sky this month. Long ago I visited your country and had a tremendously good time. We traveled to Florence, Rome and Palermo. My friend and I met so many friendly, open people.

      • Glad you enjoyed Italy and nice to meet you. I live in Trieste, NE Italy, two hours of train from Venice (also recommended) – if you come let me know.
        A sea city which was once the main port of Austrian-Hungarian Empire, we have seashore at West with great sunsets, while at East there’s a 300-500m high land extending in Slovenia, which we reach in 20-30minutes in car. So we need to go on highland to see sun/moonrises, or to escape city for green Slovenia which has a bit darker skies.
        In cold seasons we prefere to stay more in city, as we have a cold catabatic irregular wind called Bora coming from NE Europe through the highland in Slovenia (the name has the same root as “Boreal” maning North), which lowers the perceived temperature and often contributes turbulence in scope, but also cleans air: if you got wind you see worser Solar System but better deep sky. So the best weather to observe sky here is weak or moderate Bora, even better if after a rain.
        Yesterday we had a night like this. In the C8 from my balcony at South, Hind’s crimson Carbon star was very red and bright (we never saw it like that), M35 and Jupiter were awesome. I get many photos, I’m planning a blog/site to share them.

        • Giorgio,
          I’d love to come by for a visit. We have similar big cold blows of air that create a lot of turbulence but make for great deep sky observing. Hind’s Crimson Star is one of my faves – I plan a blog on it this winter. Speaking of which, good luck in starting your own blog!

  2. Thanx! By the way I just discovered that one of the reasons I’m seeing R Lep brighter now, is that it’s a variable with about 1 year period – and with peak magnitude 5 which means a very red star at naked eye! If I’m right from the plot on aavso.org it’s now at 7 and will peak at beginning of 2013… will it be still red as it’s now? For example R Leo, also a famous very red star and variable in such a period (although not Carbon), at peak has even Magnitude 4 but becomes more toward orange.
    Carbon stars are interesting also because the Carbon which constitutes life on Earth probably came from there. And ESO’s recent spiral structure image of R Scl Carbon star is awesome (again an “R” named star, LOL).
    All things you for sure already know, but ideas for your future article about R Lep! Looking forward to it!

    • Hi Giorgio,
      R Lep and other red stars appear deeper red when they’re fainter (but not so faint that they start to look colorless). For instance, when R Leo is brightest, it looks more orange to my eye than when it’s at 9th magnitude. Too bright and a star’s color is diluted. Are you an AAVSO member? If not, it’s one of the most rewarding programs for beginning and amateur astronomers. I’ve been a member since 1982. Wonderful organization and a chance to make a scientific contribution with little else than a pair of binoculars.

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