• Chris Baker

What's Up November?

Each month I highlight a few things you can easily spot in the night sky without the need for optical equipment.


Planets

The last two months have been excellent for viewing the planets and they continue to put on a fine show in November too. Some will be fading slightly this month so you need to get out there! This month you should be able to spot the elusive Mercury.

Below is information on each planet and dates for your diary.


Venus

Venus is well placed for spotting this month for those early risers and looks spectacular! You cannot miss it in the dawn sky.

At the beginning of the month it rises about 3.5 hours before the Sun. Look East-southeast before sunrise and you will easily spot the bright planet.

If you do have binoculars- or good eyesight- then you will see it is phased, like our Moon. The phases will change during the month but early on it is around 80%.

It will be close to a 5% waning Moon on the 13th – worth getting up early for.


Mercury

This is the first time I've mentioned Mercury in my What's Up series. The planet is the closest to the Sun so it sets and rises close to the Sun times: making it quite difficult to spot. But this month you will get a reasonable chance.

Mercury is a morning object in November, rising in the East-southeast. At the beginning of the month it rises about an hour before sunrise. By the 10th it is rising two hours before sunrise, giving you a greater chance to spot it. Let me know if you do, I'd love to hear from you!


Early morning on the 10th - Mercury, Venus, the crescent Moon and - further South - the brightest star in the sky, Sirius.

Courtesy of Stellarium


Mars

Mars is spectacular again this month – It glows a salmon pink in the night sky. It rises in the east and is observable most of the night. It will fade a little during the month but will remain a beautiful sight and easy to spot.

Here is an example of it mid-month looking East at around 21:00

Mars dominating the November night Sky - looking East

Courtesy of Stellarium

Uranus is not visible to the naked eye but spot the constellation Pleiades high in the sky.


Jupiter

Jupiter is a bright object in the evening southern sky - remaining quite low down for all of the month. You cannot miss this bright object. If you do have binoculars rest them against something solid to keep them steady and see how many Jovian moons you can spot. If you are lucky it will be four.

It appears close to Saturn and they will get closer as the month progresses.


Example mid-month - Looking South West after dark

Courtesy of Stellarium


Saturn

Saturn is a majestic sight and will be close to Jupiter throughout the month. It is less bright than it’s huge compatriot and shines with a slight pink hue. If you can see it through a telescope then do so as you will see the beautiful rings.


Object of the Month – Pleiades The Seven Sisters

Did you spot the October constellation of the month Leo? If not, it remains easily observable in the east as a backward question-mark.

This month the object is not actually a constellation, but a beautiful star cluster, known as Pleiades or The Seven Sisters. It comprises a cluster of young stars born together, seven of which are particularly bright. With the naked eye it is observed as a fuzzy blob.

It will be easy to see throughout the month and do let me know if you spot it!


An example of Pleiades in eastern the night sky

Courtesy of Stellarium

When?

Throughout the night


Where?

Looking east it will appear left of Mars and to the right of the bright star Capella.


What am I looking for?

It is a fuzzy blob. Try using averted vision - that is, look just to the side of the object rather than directly at it. The cones in your eye are more sensitive here in lowlight, so you'll pick out more detail - a useful tip for observing faint objects in the night sky.


Dates for your Diary

Here are a few dates to note down to see some spectacular sights.

10th November

About 2 hours before sunrise looking East - Mercury, Venus and the crescent Moon!

17th November

The Leonids meteor shower reaches its peak - Look out for some shooting stars in the night sky!

Late November

Early evening looking East southeast Jupiter and Saturn very close together


Enjoy the night sky this month and do let me know if you spot any of these wonderful objects tis month. Chris

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