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Posted on Oct 15, 2012

November 2012 Sky News

November 2012 Sky News

Mercury will set about 2 hours after the Sun in the beginning of November where it can be found in the constellation of Scorpius. It will only be visible in the western twilight for a short time as it moves towards conjunction with the Sun on November 17th, then returning still in Scorpius but in the morning twilight from November 18th. It will finish the Month in the constellation of Libra. However it will be quite difficult to spot as it will rise less than one hour before the Sun.

November 17: Mercury reaches inferior conjunction with the Sun.

November 18: Mercury reappears as a morning twilight object.

Venus shines brightly as the ‘morning star’ at magnitude -3.9 throughout November. It will continue in the morning sky until January 2013. It starts the month in Virgo, rising around 90 minutes prior to the Sun. By the end of the month it will in Libra and rising only 80 minutes prior to the Sun.

November 11, 12: Venus is close to the waning crescent Moon.

November 16: Venus is 4 degrees below Spica.

November 18: Venus, Spica and Saturn all close together.

November 27, 28: Venus in conjunction with Saturn so the two planets will appear close in the sky separated by about 0.6 degrees.

November 29: Moves into Libra

Mars: At the beginning of November, Mars can be seen low in the evening western sky. It is difficult to miss due to its distinctive orange colouring. It starts the month in the constellation of Ophiuchus leaving it in mid November to spend the rest of the month traveling through the rich star fields of Sagittarius passing many deep sky objects along its way. This should provide many interesting photo opportunities. By the end of the month it will set just 2 hours after the Sun. It is fading in slightly brightness at magnitude 1.2.
November 12: Mars moves into Sagittarius.

November 16: Mars will be above and west of the 3 day old waxing crescent Moon.

November 18: Mars very close to M8 (Lagoon Nebula)

November 24: Mars close to globular cluster M28.

November 28: Mars will be within half a degree of the bright globular cluster M22.

Jupiter: Jupiter is moving in a retrograde motion through Taurus this month as it approaches opposition early next month. Approaching its peak this month it shines brilliantly after rising around 11pm at start of the month but by the end of the month it is visible most of the night. It will pass close to many deep sky objects in Taurus during the month making for some nice views and photographs.

October 31/November 1: Just in case you are outside celebrating All Hallows Eve, Jupiter, the Moon, the Pleiades and Aldebaran make a lovely grouping in the sky.

November 2: Moon above and close to Jupiter at 0.9 degrees.

November 27/28: Moon makes another nice grouping with the Pleiades and Aldebaran.

November 28, 29:  Waning gibbous Moon passes Jupiter by 0.6 degrees.

November 30: Jupiter close to open cluster NGC1647, Hyades and the red giant Aldebaran.

Saturn: Saturn remains in Virgo this month reappearing in the dawn sky after reaching superior conjunction on October 25/26. It rises only about 10-15 minutes before the Sun on November 1st, however by November 10, it is rising about 30 minutes prior to the Sun. It will much dimmer than Venus at magnitude 0.6 so may be difficult to find early in the month due to the glare of the Sun. Early in December Saturn will make its way to the constellation of Libra.

November 13: Waning crescent Moon close to Saturn.

November 18: Saturn close to Venus and Spica.

November 27/28: Saturn in conjunction with Venus so will appear very close but only for a short time before they are lot in the glare of the rising Sun. Mercury will be about 11 degrees below them in the dawn sky – a challenging find.

Uranus is a still are reasonable target this target this month as it slowly moves east to west (retrograde) through the constellation of Pisces. It is visible all night and at magnitude 5.7 in a dark sky and after you find it in binoculars you can make it out naked eye particularly if you can see its faint blue green colouring. In an 8-inch telescope and with steady seeing you may be able to identify some of the variations in the overall appearance of the disk – mainly visible visually as light and dark areas.

Neptune remains in the constellation of Aquarius ending its time in retrograde motion on November 11. Since it doesn’t set until after midnight it should still be relatively easy to find at magnitude 7.8 to 8.0.

Dwarf Planet – Pluto

Pluto currently lies in Sagittarius and is highest above the horizon in the early evening. It is a challenge in the crowded star fields to spot at magnitude 14.1.  At the start of the month it can be found at RA 18h31m DEC -19:45. It does not move very much during the night – taking all of October to travel past M25. It sets at 11:43pm at the start of the month and is just 41’ 18” above M25 at a position angle of 198.4 degrees.   


Minor Planets


Vesta spends the month in Taurus. It will be brightening from magnitude 7.3 at the start of the month to 6.6 by November 30 as it approaches opposition on December 9th. This makes it a not too difficult a target to find in binoculars. Between 15 and 29 November it passes through the open cluster Collinder 65. It is a morning object in early November becoming an evening object mid month when it rises at around 9:30pm.


Ceres is in Gemini until the end of November when it return to Taurus. It is a bit fainter at magnitude 7.7 at the start of the month but it will be brightening up to around 6.7 by December 18 when it makes opposition. It is worth looking for over a few nights. On November 1st it is very close to IC443 the supernova remnant and bright nebula in Gemini. Some of the other stars Ceres will pass by include ηGem, at magnitude 3.33 at the beginning of November. It will be 3′ from the star the morning of November 5, but close to the star for several nights as this is near the time when Ceres is stationary.

The Moon in November:

October 30: Full Moon

November 1: Moon at apogee (406,049km)

November 7: Last Quarter

November 14: New Moon

November 14: Moon at perigee (357,360km)

November 21: First Quarter Moon

November 28: Full Moon; apogee (406,364km)

Meteor Showers in November:

The Northern and Southern Taurids: This shower is visible throughout October and most of November. It speaks around November 6th and for a few days either side. Taurus is rising around 9:30 pm around this time so best times are still after midnight towards the early morning when they are towards the Northwest. Both shower peaks are pretty weak with a Zenith Hourly Rate (ZHR) of only about 7 meteors per hour for the Southern Shower and 4 for the Northern Shower. They are generally quite faint and slow.

The Leonids are on display between 8 and 27 November, with an peak on the 17/18th November. The radiant for this shower is in the middle of the bowl of the “upside down question mark” which marks the constellation of Leo. Best time to view them is between midnight and dawn. A waxing crescent Moon setting early evening will ensure dark skies for this however. We are due for another storm similar to that of 1966 – was predicted for 2009 but never happened. Who knows – always worth a look – at worst – you should see about 15 meteors per hour.
The alpha-Monocerotids occur between November 15 and 24. It does not always produce many meteors but it can be quite spectacular when it does. So it is well worth keeping an eye out for – between midnight and dawn with the peak expected around the 21st. You can probably expect about 4 meteors an hour but they can be really bright and very fast.


Some Bright Comets visible in November

C/2011 R1 (McNaught) will be visible throughout the Spring and Summer with a magnitude currently of around 11.6 magnitude. It should be in the magnitude range of 11-13 for the next few months. It begins the month in Lupus and is fairly low in the southern evening sky and it rises about 2 hours before the Sun so can also been seen in the early morning eastern sky. It will reach superior conjunction on November 28th.  It has a coma of around 3.5’.


Comet 168P/Hergenrother will be about 11 magnitude and fairly high in the northern sky around 9pm. It is currently in Andromeda and should fade over the month. It has a 1.5’ coma and will be visible most of the night setting at 3:21am at the start of the month.


Comet C/2011 L4 (Panstarrs) is another comet in Lupus not too far from C/2011 R1(McNaught) and in the early evening you can see them both in an 12 inch telescope. It will reach a minimum solar elongation of 12 degrees on November 27th.


Comet C/2011 F1 (Linear) is slowly brightening predicted to be 9.4 magnitude at the start of November. It is also an early evening comet and is in Ophiuchus.  Early evening on November 17, it will be close to the 9th magnitude globular cluster M107.  It is easily seen with its 6’ coma in a 12 inch and has been imaged in an 8 inch telescope in dark skies.


Sky Safari Pro can be used to produce maps to find each of these and other comets quite easily and it is what I have been using to identify the comets and their locations.

by Donna Burton

Image courtesy of NASA

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