What to look for in November 2018.
If you are lucky, you might get to see Jupiter
and Mercury closely following the setting sun shortly after sundown on
November 1. Saturn and Mars will still be visible in the evening
skies for all of November. Pluto is between Mars and Saturn, but
obviously hidden from view. Neptune and Uranus are between Mars
and the eastern horizon.
November offers excellent views of the Morning
Star, Venus! The month starts with Venus rising at 6:46 a.m. near the
eastern horizon! Towards the end of the month, Venus will rise at about
3:40 a.m. and get as high as 30 degrees above the horizon before being
obscured by the rising sun. With a visual magnitude of -4.2, only the
moon and sun are brighter than Venus!
If you missed the Pleiades in October, you can
still see it in November. Look for this very bright and easy-to-see
cluster of stars about 30 degrees above the eastern horizon at sundown
on November 1. Most people will see a group of 5 or 6 stars, but if you
have good eyes and a clear night, you might spot 7 or 8 stars. If you
look at the group through a pair of binoculars or a small telescope,
you will see that many of the stars are surrounded by beautiful, blue
At about 10 p.m., the constellation, Orion the
Hunter, rises in the east. This constellation is a nebula mother
lode. The brightest and most viewed nebula is M42, the Orion
Nebula. It has a visual magnitude of +4! That means you can
easily spot it with the naked eye. Located right beside M42 is NGC
1975. It has magnitude of +7, (you’ll need binoculars or a scope
to spot it), and is one of the brightest reflection nebula in the
sky. Other interesting nebula in the Orion area, include M78, the
Horse Head Nebula, the Flaming Star Nebula, the Witch Head Nebula, and
November features two significant meteor
showers. The Northern Taurids will peak on the night of November
11 and the Leonids will peak on the night of November 17.
The Northern Taurids don’t feature a huge number
of shooting stars but they are known for fireballs! Their point of
origin is very easy to find. As the name implies, the Taurids
emanate from the Constellation Taurus (the Bull). To get more
specific, you should look for Aldebaran, a giant, red star, in the head
of the bull. In fact, it’s called the Eye of the Bull! But you
can make life simple by finding the Pleiades (it will be close to
overhead at midnight on November 11.) That will put you close enough to
Taurus to enjoy the action. Best viewing is any time between midnight
and dawn. This isn’t a one night affair, either. The Northern
Taurids can produce shooting stars and fireballs throughout November!
The Leonids meteor shower will produce more
shooting stars than the Northern Taurids. In fact, sometimes the
Leonids have been classified as a meteor storm. That means there
are over a thousand shooting stars per hour! Don’t expect that much
activity this year but it could still be a good show since the Leonids
are also known for slow moving colorful fireballs!
You can look for the Leonids to originate close
to the bright star Regulus. On November 17 Regulus will be just
above the Eastern horizon at Midnight. Best viewing of the shower
will happen later that night around 4 AM!
New Moon is the November 7
1st Quarter is November 15
Full Moon is November 23
Last Quarter is November 29