There are few bright stars in the sky this time of year, which makes it difficult to easily make out many of the constellations.
However, one of the most distinctive constellations in the northern hemisphere, Cassiopeia, the vain Queen, is in the north when it is dark.
Cassiopeia, the wife of King Cepheus, ruler of Aethiopia, was beautiful, arrogant and vain, and it was these latter two characteristics which were to lead to her downfall. Her continual boast that both she and her daughter Andromeda were more beautiful than the sea nymphs, daughters of Nereus, the sea god, brought the wrath of Poseidon, ruling god of the sea, upon the kingdom of Aethiopia. Trying to avert such a fate, Cepheus and Cassiopeia consulted a wise oracle, who told them that the only way to appease the sea gods was to sacrifice their daughter. Accordingly, Andromeda was chained to a rock at the sea's edge, and left there to helplessly await her fate at the mercy of the sea monster. But Perseus arrived in time and saved Andromeda. Poseidon considered that Cassiopeia should not escape punishment entirely, and placed her in the heavens in such a position that she circles the celestial pole in an upside-down position for half the time.
Cassiopeia contains two stars visible to the naked eye that rank among the brightest in the galaxy, ρ (Rho) Cassiopeiae and V509 Cassiopeiae.
Rho Cassiopeiae (also Rho Cas) is a yellow hypergiant in the Cassiopeia constellation. It is about 8-10,000 light years away, yet can still be seen by the naked eye (in the Northern Hemisphere only), as it is 550,000 times brighter than the Sun. The surface diameter is 738 times larger than our sun's. Astronomers think Rho Cas may go supernova in the not too distant future, because it will have consumed most of the nuclear fuel in its core.
If we were to observe Earth's Sun from Alpha Centauri, it would appear to be in Cassiopeia.
The planets this month are late night objects. Mars rises shortly before midnight at the beginning of November, and will be visible just above the horizon by 10.30 on the night of the viewing.
Venus and Saturn are visible in the early morning sky.
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