It is still an excellent time to view Mars, which is making a close pass to Earth. As soon as the sky darkens, Mars is high in the east...

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It is still an excellent time to view Mars, which is making a close pass to Earth. As soon as the sky darkens, Mars is high in the east and, with its orange color, cannot be missed. This will be the best view we will have until 2018.

Venus has just passed its greatest eastern elongation so makes an excellent twilight target in the west. On The Seattle Times Weather Page, the daily Planet Watch feature can help you determine the planets’ nightly locations.

One of the three most recognizable star patterns in the Northern Hemisphere is the “W” of Cassiopeia. The Quileute tribe calls Cassiopeia “The Giant Elk Skin” while some Arab groups see a mythical “Tinted Hand” in the five stars. Others in the Middle East view the stars as the back and hump of a camel. The Sámi of Northern Europe see the antlers of a moose and the Chukchee of Siberia see five reindeer stags. The natives of the Marshall Islands see the tail of a porpoise while the Chinese traditionally see the constellation as a great chariot.

To find Cassiopeia, in the early evenings of November face north and look almost straight overhead. The only problem is that from this perspective it looks more like an “M.” Slightly east is the star Rho Cassiopeia. While about 9,000 light years away it is still visible to the naked eye. This star is 550,000 times brighter than our sun, and 738 times its diameter. Everything in our solar system, out to and including Jupiter, would fit inside this hyper-giant star.

Rodney Ash is a member of Seattle Astronomical Society, www.seattleastro.org. Star Watch appears in Northwest Weekend the first Thursday of each month.