The November Night sky
The Milky Way rises overhead on these dark November nights, providing a stunning inside perspective on the huge Galaxy that is our home in the cosmos. After your eyes have adjusted to the dark you should be able to see that it’s spangled with fuzzy glowing diadems. Better still, sweep the band of the Milky Way with binoculars or a small telescope, and these blurry jewels appear in their true light as distant clusters of stars.
November is the first month of long nights and we are starting to see the familiar winter constellations. Orion the Hunter appears in the sky just before midnight. Just to the right of Orion is Taurus the Bull with the bright red star Aldebaran and the star cluster the Pleiades or ‘Seven Sisters. They too are now becoming more conspicuous. This is the best time to look for the autumn constellations during the evening; the Plough is low in the north and the ‘W’ of Cassiopeia overhead. The summer triangle stars Altair, Deneb and Vega are now becoming low in the west.
If you look to the south the Square of Pegasus is very prominent; a line drawn from the top left hand star of the square shows a line of stars that form the constellation of Andromeda.
Take advantage of the moonless nights this month to observe the most distant objects visible with the unaided eye. Anywhere away from the glare of streetlights, you will see the misty blur of the great Andromeda Galaxy, the nearest large galaxy to us at 2.5 million light years away. Another challenge is to try and find the fainter Triangulum Galaxy, located below Andromeda. This is one of the few constellations that look like the figure they are supposed to describe Triangulum the Triangle. The light we see from this galaxy left it almost three million years ago.
Using the two right hand stars of the Square of Pegasus draw a line down for some distance to find Fomalhaut, the brightest star in the constellation of Piscis Austrinus (the Southern Fish).
The innermost planet is lost in the Suns glare this month and is unsuitable for observation.
Like Mercury is too close to the Sun for observation this month.
The red planet rises about 5.30pm in the constellation of Taurus. It almost doubles in brightness during November, from magnitude –1.2 to –1.8 as the Earth moves towards its close encounter with Mars in December.
Although past its closest point to Earth, It is still the brightest object in the night sky, this month, apart from the Moon. Shinning at a glorious magnitude of –2.7, the gas giant can be found in the constellation of Pisces and will be setting down from view around 2am.
The ring world lies well to the lower right of Jupiter, in the constellation of Capricornus. Shinning at magnitude +0.7, Saturn drops below the horizon around 10.30pm.
Located to the left of Jupiter in the constellation of Aries, Uranus will be above the horizon all night long. The seventh planet is at its closest to the Earth on 19th of this month, but even then it only reaches magnitude +5.6, which is barely visible to the naked eye. A nice object using binoculars, which will show Uranus gradually moving from night to night against the starry background.
If you like a challenge check out another of the evening planets this month. You will need good binoculars or a telescope to track down Neptune. Shinning with a measly magnitude of +7.9 Neptune lies in the constellation of Aquarius, and will fall below the horizon around 1.30am.
This distant planet can be observed in a ten-inch or larger telescope. It can be found in the constellation of Sagittarius. With a magnitude of +14.5, it falls below the horizon around 9pm.
This dwarf planet in the asteroid belt planet can also be observed using a ten-inch or larger telescope. It can be found in the constellation of Leo at magnitude +8.6. It rises just before 2am.
There are two meteor showers this month. The Taurid meteor shower consists of slow moving meteors that often produce spectacular fireballs and is visible from November 5th to 12th. On November 17th to the 18th the Leonid meteors will be on display. Catch the display before the half Moon rises around midnight.
Other special events this month include, on the 9th November the almost full Moon passes between the Pleiades star cluster and the red star Aldebaran, with bright Mars to the left.
The following night 10th November the Moon lies between Aldebaran and Mars, with the Pleiades to the upper right.
On the 11th of the month Mars is the bright object near the Moon.
Phases of the Moon:-
First quarter 1st November
Full Moon 8th November
Last quarter 16th November
New Moon 23rd November
First quarter 30th November