Northern Hemisphere gazer's guide

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. All month: Jupiter is the only planet seen easily, the brightest object in the sky after dusk except for the moon, in the south after sunset, setting in the west-southwest before midnight.

Stars are another matter. The brighter summer stars linger in the west because of the lengthening autumn nights, and the still brighter winter stars are not far below the eastern horizon. Between dusk and midnight, all of them make appearances.

Events in the calendar below occur in local time unless indicated otherwise.

Nov. 1: The gibbous moon trundles above the horizon two hours past sundown, in Taurus. A triangle of bright stars surrounds it: Auriga's Capella above; Aldebaran in Taurus to the right and lower; the twin stars of Gemini (Pollux and Castor) rising below.

Nov. 3: The moon rises about 9 p.m. near Pollux and Castor, closing with them during the night. Before dawn, it passes below Pollux, making the twins a threesome.

Nov. 5: Last-quarter moon (3:07 p.m. Eastern standard time) slides into Leo before coming up in the east after 11 p.m.

Nov. 6-7: A waning crescent moon drifts through Leo, passing Regulus below the horizon on the 6th. The morning view is best with the moon to Regulus's right on the 6th, left on the 7th.

Nov. 9: The moon helps in finding Mars about dawn, just below the crescent in Virgo. The bright star even lower is Spica.

Nov. 11: The crescent moon hides Venus (an occultation) about 6 a.m. EST over the southern world. We can't even see the players, much less the drama, since Venus and the moon fade quickly into twilight after rising.

Nov. 12: Spring tides and a solar eclipse accompany the new moon (9:20 a.m. EST). Perigee (when the moon is nearest Earth) comes about an hour earlier and is bound to prime the high tides tonight and tomorrow. The eclipse is austral, however, covering Antarctica and waters around it, with totality limited to a small path in the South Pacific.

Nov. 13: The moon occults Mercury, but the event takes place above our horizon only during daylight or twilight.

Nov. 14: The young crescent moon premi`eres in the evening sky, in the southwest at dusk.

Nov. 16-17: Conditions couldn't be better for the Leonid meteor shower, if weather cooperates. The moon sets early both nights. The swift meteoroids of the shower usually number up to 15 per hour from 1 a.m. on, often very bright, bursting objects.

Nov. 17: The beacon in the south all month is Jupiter, drifting into the west and setting before midnight, joined tonight by the crescent moon.

Nov. 18: Mercury loops into its retrograde path on the way out of the evening sky.

Nov. 19: First-quarter moon (4:04 a.m. EST) is just over the border between Capricornus and Aquarius.

Nov. 21: The vernal equinox (First Point of Aries) is just above the moon, and the Square of Pegasus above both.

Nov. 22: After conjunction (in line with the sun), Saturn becomes a morning star.

Nov. 24: Sheratan and Hamal, the two bright stars of the Ram, are above the moon tonight after it moves into Aries.

Nov. 25: Apogee moon (farthest from Earth) is still in Aries.

Nov. 26: The moon enters Taurus again, where it started the month. The Pleiades (Seven Sisters) are close by above it and should be dimly visible through the gibbous moon's glare.

Nov. 27: Pre-perihelion perigee of comet Halley occurs today at a distance of 57 million miles. Put simply, the comet is now closest to Earth on its journey toward the sun; another (still closer) perigee occurs in April after perihelion. The comet is west of the moon, above the bright stars of Aries, without the long tail that develops after it passes the sun, impossible to see without optical assistance, however.

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