The November night sky

news: The November night sky

WELCOME TO the November night sky. Just after sunset we have two brilliant planets visible in the rapidly darkening heavens. By far the brightest is Venus visible low in the southwest. This planet is at its furthest angular distance from the Sun in early November and will sparkle next to the crescent Moon on November 5. At the same time, on the opposite side of the sky, is the red planet Mars rising in the east. The newly full Moon is close to Mars on November 14. At this time by coincidence both these planets are exactly the same distance from the Earth (50 million miles), and though a telescope magnifying 100 times or so, Venus will appear as a 50 per cent illuminated disc about twice the size of Mars.

The middle of November is traditionally a good time for seeing meteors or “shooting stars” as we have two meteor showers at this time; one is the northern Taurids visible for approximately two weeks, and the other on the night of November 17 is the Leonids. Unfortunately this year we have a nearly full Moon mid month, so only the brightest meteors can be seen.

Rising in the east during November evenings the grand constellation of Orion is now well shown. This constellation is on the equator of the sky and is visible from all over the world at this time of the year.

By midnight, at the end of the month, low in the east-northeast we can catch a view rising of the ringed planet Saturn. This planet is 90 degrees away from the Sun at the moment and through a small telescope you can see the shadow of the globe of Saturn upon its rings giving a 3-D appearance to the planet. The Moon rises with Saturn on the late evening of November 21.

The Moon is new on November 2, first quarter on November 9, full on November 16 and last quarter on November 23.