We begin our look at November with Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn. Venus continues to dominate the SW sky at dusk. With the period of twilight lengthening throughout the fall, Venus will appear 3 degrees higher by the end of the month with a setting time that will average about 2.6 hours after sunset. Viewed with a telescope, the size of the Venutian disk will increase from 26 to 39 arcseconds across the month (a 50-percent increase in size). The illumination given off by the planet will actually decrease from 48-percent to 39-percent as the crescent continues to get thinner and thinner. Venus may appear much more slender by the end of the month, but its magnitude will peak at a brilliant -4.9 as November slides into December (the smaller the number, the brighter the object appears). Venus will occupy a space in the Teapot Asterism in Sagittarius, the Archer.
Gas Giants Jupiter and Saturn are well up in the S at dusk. Saturn will continue creeping toward Theta Capricorn until they set together in twilight in January 2022. The Rings of Saturn are tippied 19 degrees from edge-on, making them an interesting telescope view. Jupiter’s cloud bands and Galilean Moons will also make for some fine viewing, even with binoculars or a small spotting scope. Jupiter will pass near Delta Capricornus on Nov. 16 – you can find Delta Cap just above the Quarter Moon on Nov 11. On Nov 30, one hour after sunset, Jupiter, Saturn, and Venus will be arrayed in a diagonal from upper left to lower right across Capricornus in the SSW sky.
The morning planets will be a little trickier to spot this month and binoculars are recommended. Look for Mercury during the first week of the month an hour before sunrise between the E and ESE. Bright Spica in Virgo will be visible in that area and Mercury can be found just to the left, or north of this blue star. Mercury will continue sinking closer to the horizon where it will soon be very close to a dim Mars. Mercury will soon slip behind the Sun and be lost in its glare with the Wingfooted Messenger reaching superior conjunction on November 28. Viewing information for Uranus, dwarf planet Ceres, and Neptune can be found at abramsplanetarium.org/msta/ .
An old sliver of the waning Moon will be visible just above Mercury in the ESE morning sky. The New Moon takes place on Nov 4 and the very young Crescent Moon will be a challenge to spot near the western horizon 25 minutes after sunset on Nov 5. A slightly larger crescent Moon will pass by Venus on Nov 7 and 8. The First Quarter, Full Moon, and Last Quarter take place on Nov 11, 19, and 27, respectively. A partial lunar eclipse will be visible overnight Nov 18-19 for most of North America. With 97 percent of the Moon passing within the Earth’s shadow, only a thin, bright crescent of the illuminated lunar surface will prevent the entire Moon from being darkened. Under these conditions, it is possible to see a range of colors within the shaded area from light blue or yellow to a deep rust color. The Pleiades Star Cluster will be located just six degrees above and to the right of the eclipsed Moon and the ruddy star Aldebaran, the brightest star in Taurus, the Bull will lie 14 degrees above and to the left of the Moon.
Compiled by Ken Raisanen of WOAS-FM – information provided by Abrams Planetarium Sky Calendar, Michigan State University. More information and subscription information can be found on their website at http://abramsplanetarium.org/skycalendar/ or on Twitter at http://twitter.com/AbramsSkyNotes. Yearly subscriptions cost $12 and can be started anytime.
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