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Look Up! A Stargazer’s Guide To November 2017

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Look Up! A Stargazer’s Guide To November 2017

November is the month of the Pleiades star cluster, which will shine all night long on November nights.  Also look for a full Moon, planetary line-ups, 3 meteor showers, and the most identifiable of constellations, Orion The Mighty Hunter, on November evenings.

All events are Eastern Time, for the Northern Hemisphere:

November 1 — Look to the east, about one hour before sunrise, to see the planet Venus and Spica, the brightest star in the constellation Virgo, pair up on the horizon. Even though Spica is a 1st magnitude star, it isn’t as bright as brilliant Venus, which is 90 times brighter, and you’ll need binoculars to view Spica.

November 2 — Look for Algol, the demon eye, winking this month. Read more about this celestial event here!

(Continued Below)

November 2-4 — Southern Taurids Meteor Shower peaks. Best viewing anywhere in the sky, from 1 – 3 a.m. local time. Unfortunately, the bright gibbous Moon will make viewing difficult. But there’s still a good possibility of catching 5-10 meteors each hour. The Taurids are actually two annual meteor showers created by the dust left behind by the comet Encke. They are named for constellation Taurus, where they are seen to emanate from in the sky. The Northern Taurids peak in mid-November (see below).

November 4  The full Beaver Moon at 1:23 a.m. In this phase, the visible Moon is fully illuminated by direct sunlight. Although the Moon is only technically in this phase for a few seconds, it is considered full for the entire day of the event and appears full for three days. People have asked us: Isn’t the Moon following the Harvest Moon always the Hunter’s Moon? The short answer is no. When the Harvest Moon comes late (as was the case this year in October), the usual procedure is to by-pass the Hunter’s Moon and call this by its usual name, the Beaver Moon, for November.

Actually, this Moon has two names. Learn about them in this short Farmers’ Almanac video:

November 5   “Fall back!” Daylight Saving Time ends: Don’t forget to set your clocks back 1 hour.

November 5 During the early evening hours, a nearly full Moon will cross in front of the orange 1st-magnitude star, Aldebaran, the “eye” of Taurus, the Bull. This occultation will be visible anywhere to the east (right) of a line extending roughly from Inuvik (Northwest Territories of Canada) to Pensacola, Florida. To the west (left) of this line, Aldebaran’s disappearance will be unobservable because the Moon and star will be below the horizon for the entire event. Visit this link to see a map of the visibility zone, as well as a listing of nearly 1,200 locations providing times of the immersion (disappearance) and emersion (reappearance) of Aldebaran.

November 5  At 7:10 p.m, the Moon will arrive at its closest point to the Earth, known as perigee, a mere 224,587 miles (361,438 kilometers) away.

November 10 — Last Quarter Moon, 3:36 p.m. In this phase, the Moon looks like a half-Moon in the sky. One-half of the Moon is illuminated by direct sunlight while the illuminated part is decreasing, on its way to the new phase.

November 12-14 — About 45 minutes before sunrise, look to the east-southeast horizon to see an incredible planetary pairing: Jupiter and Venus will appear spectacularly close together. Watch for this “dynamic duo” on three consecutive mornings — the 12th, 13th and 14th. Make sure that your view is free of any tall obstructions such as buildings or trees. Both planets will appear quite low in the horizon, so you’ll need a nice “wide-open” view.

November 12-14 — North Taurids Meteor Shower peak, with the best viewing is from 12 – 2 a.m. local time; and good news— the sky will be nice and dark due to the tiny waning crescent Moon. Head somewhere dark, free of light pollution. The Taurids are actually two annual meteor showers created by the dust left behind from the comet Encke. They are named for constellation Taurus, where they are seen to come from in the sky (near the Pleiades). But they can be spotted anywhere — simply look up!

November 14-15  Look to the east, one hour before sunrise, to see the tiny sliver of the waning crescent Moon paired up with the planet Mars. On the 14th, the Moon is above Mars; on the 15th, it is below it. Closer to the horizon you will find Jupiter and Venus.

November 17-18 — The Leonids Meteor Showers peak. Best viewing time is between midnight and 5:30 a.m. local time. This meteor shower, named for the constellation Leo, is typically one of the more exciting showers of the year, producing an average of 20-30 meteors per hour. The radiant for the Leonids is near Algieba, one of the stars of the “sickle” or “backwards question mark” within Leo. And it should be nice and dark this year as the Moon is in the new (dark) phase.

November 18 — New Moon at 6:42 a.m. At this stage, the Moon is not illuminated by direct sunlight and is completely invisible to the naked eye.

November 20 – Look for Saturn in the southwest after dusk, about 40 minutes after sunset. Catch it early; the ringed planet sets more than an hour after dark at the beginning of the month, but before the end of evening twilight by November 30th. This evening, look about 10° above the west-southwest horizon to see a slender sliver of a crescent Moon. Mercury will also be hovering near the west-southwest horizon, directly below the Moon and Saturn.

November 21 — at 2:04 p.m, the 11% waxing crescent Moon is at apogee, its farthest point from Earth in its orbit.

November 23 — Look to the west after sunset to see Mercury right below Saturn. Mercury is usually difficult to spot but now it’s at its greatest elongation from the Sun so it’s a good time to see this “elusive” planet.

November 26 — First Quarter Moon, 12:03 p.m. In this phase, the Moon looks like a half-Moon in the sky. One-half of the Moon is illuminated by direct sunlight while the illuminated part is increasing, on its way to full.

November 28 — Use binoculars to scan the west-southwest horizon to find Mercury about 40 minutes after sunset along with Saturn and to its lower left. Mercury will be glowing almost twice as bright as Saturn.

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2 comments

1 Lisa { 11.08.17 at 10:43 am }

Hello, great info, thank you! Which time zones are the times mentioned in the article?

2 P. Carroll { 11.08.17 at 7:07 am }

Thanks for sharing

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