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November 6 2012

Total solar eclipse and other November skywatching highlights


November's a good month for celestial shadow play. Stargazers will get two eclipses in about as many weeks, the first a dazzling total solar eclipse that will showcase the sun's corona approaching peak activity, and the second a subtler lunar eclipse that will be visible across much of the United States.

The theatrics start on Nov. 13, when residents of northeastern Australia get a false-start sunrise. Just an hour after the sun breaks the horizon in the coastal city of Cairns, it will be fully obscured by the moon, whose shadow will darken the sky and bring the stars back into view for 2 minutes there.

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