November Skychart

Nov. 1: Full moon appears among the stars of Aries tonight. This is the Hunter's Moon. Similar to the Harvest Moon of a month ago, but to a lesser degree, the retardation of rising time from night to night is so much less than usual that moonlight seems to last from dusk to dawn for several nights in a row , instead of only on the night of full moon. Mercury is in conjunction with Saturn today, in Virgo. The two planets are technically morning stars but poorly placed for viewing.

Nov. 2: The weak, diffuse Taurid meteor shower is at maximum today, but that isn't saying much. Best estimate is about 15 shower meteors per hour, but bright moonlight during morning hours won't help. The moon tonight is now in Taurus, between the Pleiades (a fuzzy cluster of dim stars) above to its right and Aldebaran, Taurus's brightest star, below to its left.

Nov. 3: Venus is in superior conjunction, in line with but beyond the sun. The planet leaves the morning sky and enters into a long period as an evening star.

Nov. 3-4: Early on the 4th, the moon is at perigee (nearest earth). In eastern Taurus, it moves tonight between El Nath and Zeta Tauri, the stars that mark the ''horns'' of Taurus above the V-shaped star cluster, known as the Hyades, which traces the Bull's face.

Nov. 5: The gibbous moon rises within the stars of Gemini about 8:30 tonight. It moves into line with Pollux and Castor, the ''twin'' stars, on the night of the 6th. Pollux is the lower and brighter of the two stars.

Nov. 7-8: Last-quarter moon rises late Sunday night, about midnight, in Cancer.

Nov. 8-9: Early on the evening of the 8th, the moon passes Regulus, in Leo, but by the time it rises after midnight the star is clearly to the moon's right.

Nov. 13: Spica is to the moon's right this morning and Saturn is to the left and below the moon. Jupiter is in line with the sun (conjunction), shifting from the evening to the morning sky as the sun moves east past it.

Nov. 15: New moon is in Libra.

Nov. 17: Maximum of the Leonid meteor shower occurs this morning, and the sky will be dark and moonless. This most famous of all showers produces only about 15 meteors per hour, but many are bright. It owes its reputation to a spectacular past. Veritable ''storms'' of meteors, numbering in the dozens per minute, were reported in 1799, 1833, 1866, and most recently in 1966. But little more than usual is expected this year.

Nov. 18: Expect to see the young waxing crescent moon in the west early tonight. It is above the stars of Sagittarius, but moon and stars set too early to see the constellation.

Nov. 19: Mercury moves past the sun today, beyond it in our sky, the position known as superior conjunction. The planet now becomes an evening star. Mars and the moon are in conjunction about 4 p.m. Eastern standard time, and the moon covers the planet (an occultation) over the southern half of the United States, Central America, and part of South America. However, it is a daytime occultation where it occurs over North America.

Nov. 20: The moon is at apogee (farthest from the earth) early today. Tonight it sets as a waxing crescent in Capricornus.

Nov. 23: Having moved on into Aquarius, the moon is at first-quarter phase. The brightest star above it is Enid, in Pegasus. The Square that marks the ''Flying Horse'' is well above and to the moon's left. The bright star below and to the left of the moon is Fomalhaut, in Piscis Austrinus, the constellation of the Southern Fish.

Nov. 25: Tonight's waxing gibbous moon is above the horizon at sundown in Pisces, and it is located just below the Vernal Equinox. Mark the moon's position relative to the Square of Pegasus above and the brighter star Diphda, in Cetus, the Whale, below. The moon is in Pisces, where the Vernal Equinox is.

Nov. 27-28: Two second-magnitude stars above the moon mark the position of the constellation Aries, the Ram. Its bright stars are Sheratan, the fainter, to the right, and Hamal, to the left. The Square of Pegasus is to their right, and three stars stretched out in line above them mark Andromeda.

Nov. 30: Taurus is the home of the full moon again tonight, the second full moon of November. The moon passes above Aldebaran, the bright red star of Taurus , early in the evening, and moves away from Aldebaran during the morning hours.

All month: One exceptional planetary event takes place this month, which actually began in late October. Six of the eight planets (we don't count Earth among the planets we see in the sky!) are in line with the sun (conjunction) at some time between Oct. 18 and Nov. 27. They are, in order: Saturn on Oct. 18, Pluto on Oct. 20, Venus on Nov. 3, Jupiter on Nov. 13, Mercury on Nov. 19, and Uranus on Nov. 27. They include two inferior planets (Mercury and Venus, nearer to the sun than Earth), both shifting into the evening sky, and four superior planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) all shifting from evening to morning stars.

Another consequence of all this, of course, is that you can't see very much of the planets in November. They are all spending most of their above-the-horizon time in daylight, when we can't see them. Even Mars, the only one that isn't in conjunction with the sun during this period, spends only one-fourth of its above-the-horizon time in darkness.

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