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November Skychart

By Thomas D. Nicholson DirectorThe American Museum of Natural History, New York / October 27, 1983



The sky chart is designed to correspond to the sky at 10 p.m. the first of the month, 9 p.m. in the middle of the month, and 8 p.m. at the end of the month , standard time.

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All month: The planets continue their move to the morning sky in November. Saturn became a morning star on the last day of October, Venus is at its best this month, and Mars continues to brighten and rises earlier.

In contrast, the planets have just about deserted the evening sky. Mercury and Jupiter are east of the sun, but not far enough to be seen after sundown.

Conditions in the fall generally favor morning planets, and things come together nicely this year. Venus is brilliant in the east all month, visible from 3 a.m. on, depending on the weather. Mars rises about an hour earlier, but it is much dimmer than Venus and you may not see it till it rises higher. Saturn is not visible early in November, but by month's end the favorable tilt of its orbit brings it up nearly two hours before the sun. Look below Venus just at daybreak.

Nov. 1: A busy day for the moon today. The crescent is up bright and early (about 2:30 a.m.) near the border between Virgo and Leo, to the right of Denebola, the star that marks the Lion's tail. Late in the day on Monday the moon is at perigee (nearest Earth) and in conjunction with Mars. At 1 a.m., EST on Tuesday it is in conjunction with Venus. As the moon climbs up the eastern sky at dawn, Venus and Mars are to its right and a little down. Venus is very bright and Mars a second-magnitude object close above it.

Nov. 2-3: The rising crescent moon is favorably placed on these two mornings to be seen in the eastern sky at dawn. Because its orbit is angled steeply to the horizon, the thin moon is well above the horizon at sunrise. It will be easy to see on Wednesday morning. Spotting it Thursday will be a bit harder, but very likely with a little help from the weather.

Nov. 4: New moon occurs today, near the border between Virgo and Libra, shortly after the moon passes Saturn. Venus is at greatest westerly elongation, its maximum distance to the sun's right during this cycle of its configurations. Its elongation, its brilliancy (not noticeably different from its maximum), and the steep inclination of its orbit to the horizon combine early this month to produce exceptionally good viewing conditions. Venus rises about 2:30 a.m., four hours before the sun, and remains visible until half an hour before the sun comes up.

Nov. 6-7: The moon is at it again tonight, though we will not be able to see it (still too soon after new moon for the crescent to be visible). At about 3 p.m., EST, it is in conjuction with Uranus and at 1 a.m., EST., on the 7th in conjunction with Jupiter, and at both conjunctions close enough to cover the planets. Rather unusual for the moon to occult two planets within 12 hours! Unfortunately, neither occultation can be observed from North America.

Nov. 7: Should see the crescent moon tonight, near the western edge of Sagittarius.

Nov. 12: The moon is at first quarter at 10:49 a.m. EST and rises before 1:30 this afternoon (you should see it in the east during afternoon daylight). It appears among the stars of eastern Capricornus tonight.

Nov. 15: The waxing gibbous moon is very nearly due south of the vernal equinox early this evening. It sets about 2:30 a.m. tomorrow morning.

Nov. 17-18: The famous Leonid meteor shower is at maximum about 1 a.m., EST. Unfortunately, the waxing gibbous moon doesn't set until about 4:30 a.m., and in this phase it is pretty bright. Viewing should improve after 3 a.m., when the moon is quite low, enough to see the brighter meteors. While the shower is not very productive most years (15 meteors per hour), its meteors enter the atmosphere very swiftly, and some are quite bright.

Nov. 20: Full moon (at 7:29 a.m., EST) is in Taurus, and when it rises at sundown tonight, the moon is about midway between the Pleiades (the star cluster sometimes called The Seven Sisters) and the bright red star Aldebaran.

Nov. 21: The moon moves to the other side of Aldebaran tonight. The red star is to its right.

Nov. 23: Watch the moon tonight after it rises about 7:30 p.m. and slides slowly beneath Pollux and Castor, the twin stars of Gemini. By Thursday night, the moon will be well past them in Cancer, with the two bright stars to its right.

Nov. 25: The moon is at perigee late today, nearest Earth. It is moving into Leo as it rises shortly before 10 p.m.

Nov. 27: The moon is in last-quarter phase this morning, moving out of Leo into Virgo.

Nov. 29-30: The morning sky will be exceptional on these two dates. Venus, moving easterly through Virgo, passes Spica on the 29th, while the moon passes Venus on the 29th, Mars on the 30th. Look in the east from about 3 a.m. on, when the moon, the two planets, and the stars are high enough. Spica will be to the right of a brilliant Venus. Mars will be to the right of the moon on the 29th and above Venus on both mornings.