We’ll start out the week with the Last Quarter Moon. It’ll arrive on Sunday morning at 8:46. As the moon darkens we’ll be able to see more stars in the night sky.
You can use a famous asterism to help you locate the Goat Star. Capella is a golden star in the constellation of Auriga which is also known as the Charioteer. It’s the same spectral type of star as our Sun, which basically means they have the same color. In fact it’s the brightest golden star in the night sky and is actually made up of two golden stars but appears as a single point of light when you see it. Use the Big Dipper to help you find it.
A darkening moon will also make finding meteors from the North Taurid meteor shower that much easier. Like the South Taurid meteor shower that we talked about last week this shower is caused by debris from Comet Encke. Again this one isn’t very active (you’re lucky to see 5-7 meteors per hour) but when you do see one you might be treated to a fireball, or a fast moving streak of light across the sky. If you’ve never seen a fireball it’s quite breathtaking. This shower is typically active around midnight and in the hours before & just after. The peak is expected on Wednesday night into Thursday morning. The shower's radiant is near Taurus which is in the southern sky around midnight. As always, find a dark spot, far away from the city lights for the best show.
If you're up early on Thursday morning look in the eastern sky for the moon and the solar system's two innermost planets. Mercury & Venus will be out before sunrise just below a waning crescent moon. Venus will be higher in the sky and a lot brighter. You'll need a clear view of the horizon to find Mercury. Happy hunting!