Night sky, November 2022: What you can see tonight [maps]

The night sky is more than just the moon and stars, if you know when and where to look.
Find out the latest night sky events and how to see them in this Space.com skywatching guide. (Image credit: Future)
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Celestron Astro Fi 102

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Looking for a telescope for the next night sky event? We recommend the Celestron Astro Fi 102 (opens in new tab) as the top pick in our best beginner's telescope guide

The night sky tonight and on any clear night offers an ever-changing display of fascinating objects you can see, from stars and constellations to bright planets, often the moon, and sometimes special events like meteor showers.

Observing the night sky can be done with no special equipment, although a sky map can be very useful, and a good telescope or binoculars will enhance some experiences and bring some otherwise invisible objects into view. You can also use astronomy accessories to make your observing easier, and use our Satellite Tracker page powered by N2YO.com (opens in new tab) to find out when to see the International Space Station and other satellites. You can also capture the night sky by using any of the best cameras for astrophotography, along with a selection of the best lenses for astrophotography.

Read on to find out what's up in the night sky tonight (planets visible now, moon phases, observing highlights this month) plus other resources (skywatching terms, night sky observing tips and further reading).

Related: The brightest planets in October's night sky: How to see them (and when)

Monthly skywatching information is provided to Space.com by Chris Vaughan of Starry Night Education, the leader in space science curriculum solutions. Follow Starry Night on Twitter @StarryNightEdu and Chris at @Astrogeoguy.

Editor's note: If you have an amazing skywatching photo you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, please contact managing editor Tariq Malik at spacephotos@space.com.

Calendar of observing highlights

Tuesday, November 1 - First Quarter Moon (at 06:37 GMT)

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The moon will complete the first quarter of its 29.53-day journey around Earth on Tuesday, November 1 at 2:37 a.m. EDT, 12:37 a.m. MDT, and 06:37 GMT. At first quarter, the moon’s 90 degree angle from the sun causes us to see it half-illuminated - on its eastern side. At first quarter, the moon always rises around mid-day and sets around midnight, so it is also visible in the afternoon daytime sky. The evenings surrounding first quarter are the best ones for seeing the lunar terrain when it is dramatically lit by low-angled sunlight, especially along the terminator, the pole-to-pole boundary that separates the moon’s lit and dark hemispheres.

Tuesday, November 1 - Half Moon near Saturn (evening)

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After the moon rises in the Americas in late afternoon on Tuesday, November 1 it will be slightly more than half-illuminated and shining several finger widths below Saturn in Capricornus – close enough for them to share the view in binoculars (green circle). By the time the duo sets around midnight, the diurnal rotation of the sky will shift Saturn lower, to the moon’s right.

Wednesday, November 2 - Watch Algol Brighten (at 22:28 GMT)

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The star Algol (or Beta Persei) in the constellation of Perseus is among the most easy-to-monitor variable stars. During a ten-hour period that repeats every 2 days, 20 hours, and 49 minutes, Algol dims noticeably and then re-brightens when a companion star with an orbit nearly edge-on to Earth crosses in front of the much brighter main star, reducing the total light output we perceive. Algol normally shines at magnitude 2.1, similar to the nearby star Almach in Andromeda. But while dimmed to minimum brightness, Algol’s magnitude 3.4 is almost the same as the star Rho Persei (ρ Per), which sits just two finger widths to Algol’s lower right (or 2.25 degrees to the celestial south). For observers in eastern North America, fully dimmed Algol will sit in the lower part of the east-northeastern sky on Wednesday, November 2 at 6:28 p.m. EDT or 22:28 GMT. Five hours later the star will shine at full intensity from a perch high in the eastern sky. Observers in more westerly time zones can see the latter stages of the brightening.

Wednesday, November 2 - Two Shadows Cross Jupiter (8:25 to 8:57 p.m. EDT)

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From time to time, observers with good telescopes can watch the small, round, black shadows of the Galilean moons traverse Jupiter’s disk. On Wednesday evening, November 2, sky-watchers located east of Calgary and Phoenix can watch two shadows crossing the southern hemisphere of Jupiter at the same time, for about half an hour. At 8:25 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (or 00:25 GMT on Nov 3), the large shadow of Ganymede will join the small shadow of Europa, which began its own crossing of the planet two hours earlier. Europa’s shadow will leave Jupiter at 8:57 p.m. EDT (or 00:57 GMT), leaving Ganymede’s shadow to continue on alone until 11 p.m. EDT (or 03:00 GMT).

Friday, November 4 - Gibbous Moon Visits Jupiter and Neptune (evening)

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On Friday night, November 4, the bright, gibbous moon will shine several finger widths below (or 3 degrees to the celestial south of) Jupiter – close enough for them to share the view in binoculars (green circle). As the pair slides west during the night, the diurnal rotation of the sky will lift the moon to Jupiter’s upper left. Meanwhile, the faint, blue planet Neptune will be positioned a palm’s width to the right (celestial west-southwest) of Jupiter during the evening. The bright moon will make seeing Neptune harder, so wait for a night when the moon has left that part of the sky.

Saturday, November 5 - Southern Taurids Meteor Shower Peak (wee hours)

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The Southern Taurids shower, which runs worldwide from September 28 to December 2 annually, will reach its maximum rate of about 5 meteors per hour on the afternoon of Saturday, November 5. Since meteors require a dark sky, the best viewing time in the Americas will be before dawn on Saturday morning and on Saturday night – although somewhat fewer meteors will be seen. The long-lasting, weak shower is the first of two consecutive showers derived from debris dropped by the passage of periodic Comet 2P/Encke. The larger-than-average grain sizes of the comet’s debris often produce colorful fireballs. Unfortunately, the moon will be nearly full at this year’s peak. More meteors might be revealed once the bright moon sets an hour before dawn.

Sunday, November 6 - The Moon’s Western Region (all night)

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The left-hand (western) half of the moon’s Earth-facing hemisphere is dominated by the large and irregular Oceanus Procellarum “the Ocean of Storms” and round Mare Imbrium “the Sea of Rains”, which adjoins Procellarum to the lunar northeast. Both are ancient basins that were excavated by huge impactors and later flooded with dark, iron-rich basalts that upwelled from the moon’s interior. The lunar maria are far less cratered than the bright highlands, but they are not featureless. Binoculars and telescope views reveal that the basalts vary in color and darkness due to their chemistry. When the lunar terminator is near a mare, slanted sunlight casts shadows from curved wrinkle ridges that ring each mare’s interior.

Tuesday, November 8 - Full Frost Moon Total Lunar Eclipse (at 11:02 GMT)

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The November Full Moon, traditionally known as the Beaver Moon or Frost Moon, always shines in or near the stars of Taurus and Aries. The moon will reach its full phase, directly opposite the sun in the northwestern pre-dawn sky, at 6:02 a.m. EST, 5:02 a.m. CST, or 11:02 GMT on Tuesday, November 8. At that time the moon will also be passing through Earth’s round shadow, or umbra, producing the second total lunar eclipse of 2022. Lunar eclipses are perfectly safe to view with unaided eyes, binoculars, and telescopes. The entire eclipse will be visible across northwestern North America, the Pacific Ocean, and northeastern Asia. For the rest of North America, the moon will set while it is fully eclipsed. None of this eclipse will be visible from Africa or Europe. The first “bite” out of moon will occur when it starts to enter Earth’s umbra at 3:09 a.m. CST or 09:09 GMT. The moon will be fully eclipsed for about 86 minutes, shining with a deep red color between 4:16 a.m. and 5:42 a.m. CST (or 10:16 to 11:42 GMT). Around maximum eclipse at 5:00 a.m. CST or 11:00 GMT, the moon’s northern edge will be passing through the outer reaches of Earth’s umbra, causing the southern part of the moon to be noticeably darker than the northern. Around 12:00 GMT, observers in Asia, Alaska, and the Yukon can watch the partially-eclipsed moon occult the planet Uranus (exact times vary by location). The moon will completely escape Earth’s umbra at 6:49 a.m. CST or 11:49 GMT

Wednesday, November 9 - Uranus at Opposition (all night)

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Uranus will reach opposition on Wednesday morning, November 9. At that time it will be closest to Earth for this year - a distance of 1.74 billion miles, 2.80 billion km, or 155 light-minutes. Uranus’ slightly reduced distance from Earth will cause it to shine at a peak brightness of magnitude 5.64 – but the recently full moon shining a palm’s width to Uranus’ left (or celestial east) will make seeing it difficult. Since Uranus will appear slightly larger in telescopes for a week or so centered on opposition night, view it on a night when the moon isn’t as close to it. During autumn this year, look for Uranus’ small, blue-green dot moving slowly retrograde westwards in southeastern Aries, about 1.4 fist diameters to the right (or 14 degrees to the celestial south-southwest) of the Pleiades Star Cluster aka Messier 45. Or, use binoculars (green circle) to locate Uranus using the nearby stars Botein and Epsilon Arietis.

Thursday, November 10 - Bright Moon Approaches Mars (all night)

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Starting around mid-evening on Thursday, November 10, the bright, waning gibbous moon will be prominent in the lower part of the eastern sky, with the bright, reddish dot of Mars positioned a palm’s width to the moon’s lower left. As the duo crosses the night sky together the moon’s eastward orbital motion will carry it closer to Mars, allowing them to share the view in binoculars (green circle). Early risers on Friday can watch for the moon and Mars shining in the western sky before dawn. By then, the diurnal rotation of the sky will have lifted Mars to the Moon’s upper left.

Saturday, November 12 - Northern Taurids Meteor Shower Peak (pre-dawn and late evening)

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The Northern Taurids meteor shower, which runs worldwide from October 20 to December 10 annually, will reach its maximum on Saturday afternoon, November 12 in the Americas. Since meteors require a dark sky, the best viewing time for North American skywatchers will be off-peak – on Saturday morning before dawn and late on Saturday evening. At those times, the shower’s radiant near the Pleiades star cluster in Taurus will be well above the horizon in a dark sky. The long-lasting, weak shower is the second of two consecutive showers derived from debris dropped by the passage of periodic Comet 2P/Encke. The larger-than-average grain sizes of the comet’s debris often produce colorful fireballs. The Northern Taurids shower typically delivers 5 meteors per hour at its peak period - but 2022 could see an upswing, according to the International Meteor Organization. At this year’s peak, a bright, waning gibbous moon will shine near the radiant, reducing the number of meteors we see.

Sunday, November 13 - Gibbous Moon near Gemini’s Twins (all night)

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On Sunday night, November 13, the waning gibbous moon will be aligned with Gemini’s brightest stars Pollux and Castor. When the trio rises in the east during mid-evening, the moon will appear several finger widths below (or 3.5 degrees to the celestial southeast of) Pollux – close enough to share the view in binoculars (green circle). Somewhat less-bright Castor will shine above them. By dawn the eastward orbital motion of the moon will carry it a little farther from Pollux and bend their alignment. Meanwhile, the diurnal rotation of the sky will pivot their line to horizontal.

Monday, November 14 - Half-Moon Buzzes the Beehive

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When the waning gibbous moon rises in the east during late evening on Monday, November 14, it will be positioned several finger widths to the upper left (about 3 degrees to the celestial north) of the large open star cluster known as the Beehive (and Messier 44) in Cancer. Both objects will fit within the field of view of binoculars (green circle), although the bright moonlight will obscure the cluster’s dimmer stars. To better see them, hide the moon just beyond the upper left edge of the binoculars’ field of view.

Wednesday, November 16 - Third Quarter Moon (at 13:27 GMT)

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The moon will complete three quarters of its orbit around Earth, measured from the previous new moon, on Wednesday, November 16 at 8:27 a.m. EST, 5:27 a.m. PST, or 13:27 GMT. At the third (or last) quarter phase the moon appears half-illuminated, on its western, sunward side. It will rise around midnight local time, and then remain visible until it sets in the western daytime sky in early afternoon. Third quarter moons are positioned ahead of the Earth in our trip around the Sun. About 3½ hours later, Earth will occupy that same location in space. The week of dark, moonless evening skies that follow this phase are the best ones for observing fainter deep sky targets.

Thursday, November 17 - Leonids Meteor Shower Peaks (all night)

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The annual Leonids Meteor shower, derived from material left by repeated passages of periodic Comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle, runs from November 6 to 30. The peak of the shower, when up to 15 meteors per hour are predicted, will occur on Thursday evening, November 17 in the Americas. At that time, Earth will be traversing the densest part of the comet’s debris train. While you should see some Leonids after dusk on Thursday evening - many with persistent trains - more meteors will be apparent on Friday in the hours before dawn, when the radiant in the head of Leo will be highest in the southeastern sky. Unfortunately, the bright waning crescent moon, which will rise at around 1 a.m. local time on Friday morning, will reduce the quantity of fainter meteors we see.

Saturday, November 19 - The Andromeda Galaxy (all night)

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In late November, the Andromeda Galaxy is positioned very high in the eastern sky during evening. This large spiral galaxy, also designated Messier 31 and NGC 224, is located 2.5 million light years from us, and covers an area of sky measuring 3 by 1 degrees. That corresponds to six by two full moon diameters! Under dark skies, M31 can be seen with unaided eyes as a sizeable faint smudge located 1.4 fist diameters to the lower left (or 14 degrees to the celestial northeast) of Alpheratz, the star that occupies the northwestern corner of the Great Square of Pegasus. The three westernmost stars of Cassiopeia, Caph, Shedar, and Gamma Cas, also conveniently form an arrowhead that points towards M31. Binoculars will reveal the galaxy very well. In a backyard telescope, use your lowest magnification eyepiece and look for M31’s two smaller companion galaxies, the foreground, brighter Messier 32 and the more distant, fainter Messier 110 (inset).

Monday, November 21 - The Double Cluster (all night)

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The northeastern sky on mid-November evenings hosts the bright constellations of Perseus and W-shaped Cassiopeia, with the very bright star Capella positioned below them. The sky between Perseus and Cassiopeia hosts the Double Cluster, a pair of bright open star clusters that together cover a finger’s width of the sky. They make a spectacular sight in binoculars or telescope at low magnification. The higher (more westerly) cluster, designated NGC 869, is dense and contains more than 200 white and blue-white stars. The lower (easterly) cluster NGC 884 is looser and hosts a handful of 8th magnitude golden stars. The clusters formed in the same part of the Perseus Arm of the Milky Way. They are about 7,300 light-years away from us. Their region of the sky is heavily contaminated by opaque interstellar dust that has diminished the clusters’ intensity.

Wednesday, November 23 - New Moon (at 22:57 GMT)

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The moon will reach its new phase on Wednesday, November 23 at 5:57 p.m. EST, 2:57 p.m. PST, or 22:57 GMT. At that time our natural satellite will be located in Scorpius, 2.3 degrees south of the sun. While new, the moon is travelling between Earth and the sun. Since sunlight can only reach the far side of the moon, and the moon is in the same region of the sky as the sun, the moon becomes unobservable from anywhere on Earth for about a day (except during a solar eclipse). On the evenings following the new moon phase, Earth’s planetary partner will return to shine in the western sky after sunset.

Thursday, November 24 - Spotted Jupiter Completes a Retrograde Loop (7:45 to 9:54 p.m. EST)

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On Thursday, November 24, Jupiter will cease its motion through the distant stars of western Pisces - marking the end of a westward retrograde loop that began in late July. Meanwhile, from 7:45 p.m. to 9:54 p.m. EST (or 00:45 to 02:54 GMT on Wednesday, November 25), observers with telescopes in the Americas can watch the small, round, black shadow of the Galilean moon Io cross Jupiter’s disk.

Thursday, November 24 - Asteroid Pallas Changes Course (overnight)

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On Thursday, November 24, the main belt asteroid designated (2) Pallas will cease its eastward motion through the stars of Canis Major and commence a westerly retrograde loop that will last until February, 2023. Tonight, the magnitude 8.2 minor planet will rise in late evening and remain visible all night long in a backyard telescope (green circle), positioned close to the midpoint between the big dog’s two bright tail stars Aludra and Wezen.

Monday, November 28 - Young Crescent Moon near Saturn (evening)

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As the sky darkens during evening on Monday, November 28, the yellowish dot of Saturn will be positioned more than a palm’s width to the upper left (or 7 degrees to the celestial northeast) of the young crescent moon in the southern sky. By the time the moon sets in the west around 9:30 p.m. local time, its orbital motion will have carried it a bit closer to Saturn. On Tuesday evening, the moon will shine farther to Saturn’s upper left.

Tuesday, November 29 - Half-moon Approaches Vesta (evening)

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In the southwestern sky on Tuesday evening, November 29, the waxing, nearly half-illuminated moon will be positioned several finger widths to the right (or 4 degrees to the celestial west) of the main belt asteroid designated (4) Vesta. That’s close enough for the magnitude 7.6 minor planet to share the view in binoculars (green circle). Skywatchers in westerly time zones will see the moon closer to Vesta. Backyard telescope users can use the double star 53 Aquarii shining just to Vesta’s north-northwest (inset) to locate the asteroid. Watch for Saturn to their lower right nearby during early evening.

Wednesday, November 30 - A Second First Quarter Moon Passes Juno (at 14:36 GMT)

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When a major lunar phase occurs very early in a calendar month, it can repeat at the end of that month. For the second time in November, the moon will complete the first quarter of its journey around Earth on Wednesday, November 30 at 9:36 a.m. EST, 6:36 a.m. PST, and 14:36 GMT. When the moon rises in the Americas during late afternoon, it will be shining in Aquarius, below and between the bright planets Jupiter and Saturn. Telescope owners (green circle) can seek out the magnitude 9.2 speck of the asteroid Juno sitting less than a lunar diameter to the moon’s lower left (or celestial south). The evenings surrounding first quarter are the best ones for seeing the lunar terrain when it is dramatically lit by low-angled sunlight, especially along the terminator, the pole-to-pole boundary that separates the moon’s lit and dark hemispheres.

Wednesday, November 30 - Mars Closest to Earth (overnight)

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A full week before Mars reaches opposition on December 8, the red planet will be closest to Earth in late evening on Wednesday, November 30 in the Americas. At that time, Mars will be 50.608 million miles, 81.446 million km, or 4.53 light-minutes away. In a telescope, the planet will exhibit a maximum apparent disk size of 17.2 arc-seconds, revealing the greatest amount of surface detail. The bright reddish planet will shine high in the southeastern sky, between the horns of Taurus. Mars will continue to visibly brighten in the sky until opposition. The difference in the two dates arises because the distance between Earth’s and Mars’ elliptical orbits is increasing at this time of the year.

Planets

Mercury

Mercury in the morning sky.  (Image credit: Chris Vaughan)
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Mercury, just completing an excellent October morning apparition, will be observable with difficulty during the first several mornings of November. Look for the speedy, magnitude -1.25 planet sitting just above the eastern horizon before sunrise, especially if you are observing from a tropical latitude. Magnified views of the planet will reveal a fully illuminated disk spanning 4.75 arc-seconds in diameter. Mercury will pass the sun at superior conjunction on November 8, and then it will enter the western post-sunset sky. Unfortunately, Mercury’s position well below (or south of) a severely canted ecliptic will prevent the planet from becoming visible until late November. On the evenings surrounding November 21, Mercury will pass just 1.25 degrees south of much brighter Venus, but only tropical observers will easily see their telescope-close conjunction. The very young crescent moon will appear several degrees to their left on November 24.

Venus

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Despite shining at a brilliant magnitude -3.9, Venus will not be observable until after the middle of November. Even then, the planet will only be positioned a few degrees above the west-southwestern horizon after sunset at mid-northern latitudes. Observers located closer to the tropics should be able to see the planet before then. Venus will travel eastward along the ecliptic, passing from Scorpius into Ophiuchus on November 22, one day after speedy Mercury races by much brighter Venus, passing just 1.25 degrees south of our sister planet. Only tropical observers will easily see their telescope-close conjunction, which will include the very young crescent moon positioned several degrees to their left on November 24. Viewed in a telescope during late November, Venus will display a nearly fully illuminated, 9.8 arc-seconds-wide disk.

Mars

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Mars will be well positioned for viewing during evening in November, rising shortly after 8 p.m. local time on the 1st and just before 5 p.m. at month’s end – thanks in part to the end of Daylight Saving Time. Mars will spend the night being carried across the sky, while tucked between the horns of Taurus, the Bull. At the beginning of November, red Mars will shine at magnitude -1.26 near the southerly horn star Zeta Tauri and 2 degrees from the Crab Nebula Messier 1. At mid-month Mars’ westerly retrograde motion will place it midway between Zeta and Elnath, the northerly horn star. From there it will slide west towards the big open star cluster NGC 1746. During the month, Earth’s motion towards it will cause Mars to brighten to magnitude -1.82. In a telescope, it will grow in apparent diameter from 15.2 to 17.2 arc-seconds, allowing telescope-owners to see its polar caps and surface markings with increased clarity. The bright, waning gibbous moon will hop past Mars to the north on November 10-11.

Jupiter

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Jupiter will be very well-placed for observing during evening during November. The magnitude -2.8 planet will gleam in the lower part of the southeastern sky after dusk, climb highest and look sharpest in telescopes during mid-evening, and then set in the west during the wee hours. The planet’s westward slide through the faint stars of western Pisces will slow to a stop on November 24, and then it will resume its easterly prograde motion among the fishes’ stars. That date will also see Jupiter approach to 6 degrees east of Neptune. In a backyard telescope in November, Jupiter will exhibit equatorial bands girdling a disk that diminishes in size from 47.5 to 43.5 arc-seconds. The Great Red Spot will appear every second or third night, and Jupiter’s four large Galilean satellites will eclipse and occult one another, and cast their round, black shadows on the planet – singly and in pairs. The waxing gibbous moon will shine several finger widths to the lower left (or 3 degrees to the celestial southeast) of Jupiter on November 4.

Saturn

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During evenings in November, the creamy-yellow dot of Saturn will be observable in the lower part of the southwestern sky. On November 1, the magnitude 0.66 planet will be highest, and look sharpest in telescopes, around 7:30 p.m. local time, then it will set in the southwest shortly after midnight. By the end of the month, Saturn, by then a bit fainter magnitude 0.77, will set before 10 p.m. local time. Saturn ended its westerly prograde loop in the last week of October. During November it will accelerate eastward above the tail stars of Capricornus, the Sea-Goat – each night moving noticeably farther from the star Iota Cap. Viewed in a telescope during November, Saturn will show an apparent disk diameter that diminishes from 17.2 to 16.4 arc-seconds, and its rings will subtend 2.33 times that span. Saturn’s rings will be tilting more edge-on to us every year until the spring of 2025. This year they are already closed enough for Saturn’s southern polar region to extend well beyond them. The waxing gibbous moon will shine 4 degrees to the south of Saturn on November 1. Then the waxing crescent moon will cross below Saturn again on November 28-29.

Uranus

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Uranus will reach opposition on November 9, making it an all-night target during November - especially in late evening, when it will be highest, and appear most clearly, in a backyard telescope or binoculars. On opposition night Uranus will be closest to Earth for this year - a distance of 1.74 billion miles, 2.80 billion km, or 155 light-minutes. Uranus’ minimum distance from Earth will cause it to shine at a peak brightness of magnitude 5.64. It will also appear slightly larger - showing a 3.8 arc-seconds-wide disk in telescopes for a week or so centered on that date. All month long, Uranus’ small, blue-green dot will be moving slowly retrograde westwards through southern Aries, a generous fist’s width to the lower left (or 13 degrees southeast of) that constellation’s brightest stars, Hamal and Sheratan – and only a palm’s width from the star Mu Ceti to its south. During evening on November 7 in the Americas, the very bright, nearly-full moon will shine 5 degrees to the right (or celestial WSW) of Uranus. Hours later, observers with telescopes in Asia can see the partially eclipsed full moon occult Uranus around 12:00 GMT - the eleventh in a series of consecutive lunar occultations of that planet.

Neptune

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During November, the distant, blue planet Neptune will be observable for most of the night as a magnitude 7.8 speck moving slowly westward in a retrograde loop across the stars of northeastern Aquarius, near its border with Pisces. The planet will be easiest to see when it is highest in the sky in early evening. To aid your search, far brighter Jupiter will shine 6.5 degrees to Neptune’s northeast and the medium-bright star Phi Aquarii will shine almost as far to its southwest. In a telescope, Neptune’s tiny apparent disk size will span 2.3 arc-seconds. Larger telescopes can show Neptune’s large moon Triton.

Skywatching terms

Gibbous: Used to describe a planet or moon that is more than 50% illuminated.

Asterism: A noteworthy or striking pattern of stars within a larger constellation.

Degrees (measuring the sky): The sky is 360 degrees all the way around, which means roughly 180 degrees from horizon to horizon. It’s easy to measure distances between objects: Your fist on an outstretched arm covers about 10 degrees of sky, while a finger covers about one degree.

Visual Magnitude: This is the astronomer’s scale for measuring the brightness of objects in the sky. The dimmest object visible in the night sky under perfectly dark conditions is about magnitude 6.5. Brighter stars are magnitude 2 or 1. The brightest objects get negative numbers. Venus can be as bright as magnitude minus 4.9. The full moon is minus 12.7 and the sun is minus 26.8.

Terminator: The boundary on the moon between sunlight and shadow.

Zenith: The point in the sky directly overhead.

Night sky observing tips

Adjust to the dark: If you wish to observe fainter objects, such as meteors, dim stars, nebulas, and galaxies, give your eyes at least 15 minutes to adjust to the darkness. Avoid looking at your phone’s bright screen by keeping it tucked away. If you must use it, set the brightness to minimum – or cover it with clingy red film. 

Light Pollution: Even from a big city, one can see the moon, a handful of bright stars, and the brightest planets - if they are above the horizon. But to fully enjoy the heavens — especially a meteor shower, the fainter constellations, or to see the amazing swath across the sky that is the disk of our home galaxy, the Milky Way — rural areas are best for night sky viewing. If you’re stuck in a city or suburban area, use a tree or dark building to block ambient light (or moonlight) and help reveal fainter sky objects. If you’re in the suburbs, simply turning off outdoor lights can help.

Prepare for skywatching: If you plan to be outside for more than a few minutes, and it’s not a warm summer evening, dress more warmly than you think is necessary. An hour of winter observing can chill you to the bone. For meteor showers, a blanket or lounge chair will prove to be much more comfortable than standing, or sitting in a chair and craning your neck to see overhead.

Daytime skywatching: On the days surrounding first quarter, the moon is visible in the afternoon daytime sky. At last quarter, the moon rises before sunrise and lingers into the morning daytime sky. When Venus is at a significant angle away from the sun it can often be spotted during the day as a brilliant point of light - but you’ll need to consult an astronomy app to know when and where to look for it. When large sunspots develop on the sun, they can be seen without a telescope – as long as you use proper solar filters, such as eclipse glasses. Permanent eye damage can occur if you look at the sun for any length of time without protective eyewear. 

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Chris Vaughan, aka @astrogeoguy, is an award-winning astronomer and Earth scientist with Astrogeo.ca, based near Toronto, Canada. He is a member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and hosts their Insider's Guide to the Galaxy webcasts on YouTube. An avid visual astronomer, Chris operates the historic 74˝ telescope at the David Dunlap Observatory. He frequently organizes local star parties and solar astronomy sessions, and regularly delivers presentations about astronomy and Earth and planetary science, to students and the public in his Digital Starlab portable planetarium. His weekly Astronomy Skylights blog at www.AstroGeo.ca (opens in new tab) is enjoyed by readers worldwide. He is a regular contributor to SkyNews magazine, writes the monthly Night Sky Calendar for Space.com in cooperation with Simulation Curriculum, the creators of Starry Night and SkySafari, and content for several popular astronomy apps. His book "110 Things to See with a Telescope", was released in 2021.

  • Malcolm
    Hi MMohammad,
    Thank you for your gracious welcome via email, though I fear we are ‘light years’ away from each other (as my comment shows, if it stays and is not censored) when it comes to this Earth and the Universe in which we live. I am no expert but each to their own beliefs.
    Regards,
    Malcolm
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