November has fallen fast upon us. That’s good news for southern-hemisphere stargazers who now enjoy warmer nights. But it’s also good for northern stargazers who enjoy earlier sunsets and longer stargazing sessions. For deep-sky observers, there are plenty of open star clusters in Cassiopeia and Perseus, and lots of galaxies in Pegasus, Sculptor, and elsewhere. There are congregations of bright planets in the morning sky, and a few planetary stragglers in the evening sky as well. Not to mention two overlapping meteor showers that offer a chance for you to see a few bright, slow-moving fireballs, and two occultations by the Moon of first-magnitude stars. Here’s what to see in the night sky this month…
4 November. Full Moon, 5:23 UT UT
4 Nov. Before sunrise, look for Venus, Mars, and the star Spica in the eastern morning sky. Venus is bright and low along with the much fainter icy-white Spica. Mars is higher and fainter than Spica but clearly ochre-hued. Look closely to the left of Mars to see the star Porrima, γ (gamma) Virginis, an excellent and closely-spaced double star that’s a challenge for a small telescope. And marvel that you are looking towards the constellation Virgo, a northern spring constellation, on a cold autumn morning. The sky keeps turning.
5 Nov. Most North Americans enjoy an extra hour of stargazing (or sleep) as Daylight Saving Time ends.
5-6 Nov. A just-past-full Moon occults the star Aldebaran in the constellation Taurus for most observers in North America and northern Europe. It just grazes the Moon for observers elsewhere. Look for the bright orange star in the eastern sky after sunset on Nov. 5. Observers in western North America will see the occultation as the Moon rises. In central to eastern North America, the occultation occurs in the early evening hours. In northern Europe, the event takes place after midnight on Nov. 6. Exact timings of the event are found here for hundreds of locations.
6-12 Nov. The Taurid meteor showers peak this week. There are two, the Northern and Southern Taurids, and they both peak in late October through mid-November. They’re sometimes called the Halloween Fireballs. You can see these bright, slow-moving fireballs in the northern and southern hemispheres at essentially any time of night. Expect a modest 5-10 meteors an hour.
10 Nov. Last Quarter Moon, 20:36 UT
11 Nov. The bright star Regulus lies conspicuously close to the waning Moon in the eastern sky in the early-morning hours. It gets closer, too, and for many observers in the U.S. and southern British Columbia, the star will pass behind the Moon in daylight. This is the second lunar occultation of a bright star this month. Detailed timing for many locations are at this link. Take a look if you get the chance! While the Moon is visible to the unaided eye, you will need a telescope to see Regulus in the glare of the daylight. The star will disappear behind the bright edge of the Moon and reappear from behind the darkened edge.
11 Nov. Bright Jupiter and brighter Venus emerge above the eastern horizon before sunrise. The planets are just 2º apart today. At magnitude -4, Venus is still dazzling, but it slowly moves back towards the Sun during the month. Jupiter is slowly brightening and growing apparently larger. By the end of November, it rises more than two hours before the Sun and gets high enough to invite observation with binoculars or a telescope. On November 16, a wafer-thin crescent Moon joins the two planets before sunrise.
17 Nov. The Leonid meteor shower peaks today. While there is no Moon to brighten the sky, the Leonids have been a dud of late. But it was not always so. In this past, this was an excellent meteor shower, and it once exploded into a meteor storm during which thousands of meteors each hour filled the night sky.
18 Nov. New Moon, 11:42 UT
20 Nov. A slender waxing crescent Moon joins Saturn and Mercury in the western sky after sunset. Saturn is now fading for the year, moving towards the Sun on its way to conjunction on December 21. Mercury appears slightly below Saturn. The little planet is remarkably bright, but skyglow makes it hard to see. Grab a pair of binoculars to inspect the scene about half an hour after sunset.
26 Nov. First Quarter Moon, 17:03 UT
28 Nov. Saturn and Mercury are just a few degrees apart now and continue to move closer together as November turns into December.Share This: