See what's up in the night sky for November 2019, including stargazing events and the moon's phases, in this Space.com gallery courtesy of Starry Night Software.
Friday, November 1 evening — Crescent Moon Meets Saturn
On the evening of Friday, November 1, the waxing crescent moon will take up a position less than 5 degrees to the lower right (to the celestial west) of Saturn. Both objects will fit into the field of view of binoculars (red circle). Hours later, observers in the Kerguelen Islands, the Prince Edward Islands, eastern Antarctica, southern Tasmania, New Zealand, and southern Polynesia can see the moon occult Saturn.
Saturday, November 2 evening — Vesta Tickles Taurus' Toe
For several evenings commencing on Saturday, November 2 the orbital motion (red path) of the large asteroid Vesta carry it closely past the naked-eye star Omicron (o) Tauri, which marks the Bull's hoof -setting up an easy way to find and view the magnitude 6.6 asteroid. The pair of objects will appear together in the field of view of a telescope at medium magnification (red circle). Closest approach of 20 arc-minutes (or two-thirds of the moon's diameter) will occur on November 4. In binoculars, Vesta will be positioned below the star – some telescopes will flip the view.
Monday, November 4 at 10:24 GMT — First Quarter Moon
When the moon completes the first quarter of its orbit around Earth, the 90 degree angle formed by the Earth, sun, and moon cause us to see the moon half-illuminated — on its eastern side. At first quarter, the moon always rises around noon and sets around midnight local time, so it is readily visible in the afternoon daytime sky. The evenings around first quarter are the best ones for seeing the lunar terrain when it is dramatically lit by low-angled sunlight.
Tuesday, November 5 after midnight — Southern Taurids Meteor Shower Peak
Meteors from the Northern Taurids shower appear worldwide from September 23rd to November 19th annually. The long-lasting, weak shower is derived from debris dropped by the passage of periodic Comet 2P/Encke. The debris' larger than average grain size often produce colorful fireballs. The peak of activity, when up to five meteors per hour are predicted, will occur at 06:00 GMT. At that time, Earth will be traversing the densest part of the comet's debris train. On the peak night, the waxing first quarter moon will set at midnight, leaving the post-midnight sky dark enough for meteor watching. The best viewing time will occur at around 1 a.m. local time, when the shower's radiant, located in western Taurus, will be high in the southern sky.
Sunday, November 10 pre-dawn — Mars Passes Spica
When Mars rises shortly after 5 a.m. local time on the mornings surrounding Sunday, November 10, it will be positioned less than 3 degrees to the upper left (to the celestial north) of the bright star Spica in Virgo. The 20.8 light-minutes-distant reddish planet and the 250 light-years-distant white star will appear together in the field of view of binoculars (red circle).
Monday, November 10 overnight — Bright Moon Meets Uranus
Overnight on Monday, November 10, the nearly full moon will pass within 6 degrees below (to the celestial south of) Uranus. The bright moon's light will overwhelm the dim planet, but you can note Uranus' location and view the planet on a night when the moon has left the scene.
Monday, November 11 between 12:40 and 18:07 GMT — Transit of Mercury
On the morning of Monday, November 11, Mercury's inferior conjunction will occur very close to the planet's ascending node, producing a five-hour transit of Mercury across the sun's disk. The event will be visible from all of North America, but only the eastern portion of the continent will see the first and second contacts with the sun. The Caribbean and South America will see the entire event. Contact timings vary by locale, so use a planetarium application like Starry Night or SkySafari to determine the contact times for your location. Proper solar filters and high telescope magnification will be required to see tiny Mercury's black disk on the sun. The next Mercury transit after this one will occur on November 13, 2032 — but that transit will not be visible from North America.
Tuesday, November 12 all night — Minor Planet Vesta at Opposition
On Tuesday, November 12, the Earth's orbit will carry us between the minor planet (4) Vesta and the sun. Sitting opposite the sun in the sky, Vesta will be visible all night long, and appear at its brightest (magnitude 6.5) for the year — well within reach of binoculars and small telescopes. Look for the object in eastern Cetus, approximately 9.5 degrees to the right (or celestial southwest) of the moon, and 5.6 degrees to the left of the star Menkar, which you can continue to use to find Vesta after the moon has left the area.
Tuesday, November 12 at 13:35 GMT — Full Beaver Moon
The November Full Moon, traditionally known as the Beaver Moon or Frost Moon, always shines in or near the stars of Taurus and Aries. Since it's opposite the sun on this day of the lunar month, the moon will be fully illuminated, rise at sunset, and set at sunrise. Full moons occurring during the winter months in North America will climb as high in the sky as the summer noonday sun, and cast similar shadows.
Tuesday, November 12 at 05:00 GMT — Northern Taurids Meteor Shower Peak
Meteors from the Northern Taurids shower appear worldwide from October 19th to December 10th annually. The long-lasting, weak shower is derived from debris dropped by the passage of periodic Comet 2P/Encke. The debris' larger than average grains often produce colorful fireballs. The peak of activity, when up to five meteors per hour are predicted, will occur near midnight EDT on Monday, November 11. At that time, Earth will be traversing the densest part of the comet's debris train. The full moon in Taurus on the peak night will overwhelm most of the meteors. The best viewing time will occur around 1 a.m. local time, when the shower's radiant will be high in the southern sky.
Sunday, November 17 pre-dawn — Leonids Meteor Shower Peaks
The annual Leonids Meteor shower, derived from material left by repeated passages of periodic Comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle, runs from November 5th to December 3rd. At the peak, before dawn on Sunday, November 17, expect to see about 15 meteors per hour, many with persistent trains. A bright, waning gibbous moon on the peak night will brighten the sky, washing out many of the meteors.
Monday, November 18 wee hours — Moon Buzzes the Beehive Cluster
From late evening on Sunday through the pre-dawn of Monday, November 18, the waning gibbous moon will approach and then pass the heart of the large, open star cluster known as the Beehive (and Messier 44). The moon's orbital motion from west to east (green line) will carry it through the cluster's northern edge at around 6 a.m. EST, but the moon will be near the cluster all night long. The moon and the cluster will fit together within the field of view of binoculars (red circle). For best results, position the moon outside of the upper left of your binoculars' field of view and look for the cluster's myriad stars.
Tuesday, November 19 at 21:12 GMT — Last Quarter Moon
At its last quarter phase, the moon rises around midnight and remains visible in the southern sky all morning. At this phase, the moon is illuminated on its western side, towards the pre-dawn sun. Last 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. After this phase, the waning moon will traverse the last quarter of its orbit around the earth, on the way to new moon.
Saturday, November 23 early evening — Venus Passes Jupiter
On the evenings surrounding Saturday, November 23 the orbital motion of Venus (red curve) will carry it closely past Jupiter. Between sunset and 6 p.m. local time, look low in the southwestern sky for very bright Venus positioned to the lower left (or celestial south) of medium-bright Jupiter. With a separation of only 1.5 degrees at closest approach, both planets will appear together in the eyepiece of a backyard telescope at low magnification (red circle) for several days.
Sunday, November 24 pre-dawn — Old Moon Meets Mars
When Mars rises in the south-southeastern sky shortly before 5 a.m. local time on Sunday, November 24, the old crescent moon will be positioned only 3.5 degrees to the upper left (or celestial north) of that planet. The pairing will make a nice sight in binoculars (red circle). Look for bright Mercury also sitting 8.5 degrees below the moon.
Monday, November 25 pre-dawn — Old Moon Meets Mercury
Low in the south-southeastern sky before dawn on Monday, November 25, the very slim crescent moon will be positioned 5 degrees to the lower left (or celestial east) of medium-bright Mercury. The optimal time for viewing the two objects will occur around 6:30 a.m. local time.
Tuesday, November 26 at 15:06 GMT — New Moon
At its new phase, 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 will be completely hidden from view.
Wednesday, November 27 evening — Neptune Stands Still
On Wednesday, November 27, the distant, blue planet Neptune will complete a retrograde loop that has been carrying it westward since mid-June. After today, Neptune will resume its regular eastward motion (red path) through the stars of Aquarius. From dark sky locations the magnitude 7.9 planet can be observed all evening in binoculars and backyard telescopes.
Thursday, November 28 before sunrise — Mercury at Greatest Western Elongation
On Thursday, November 28, Mercury will officially reach its widest separation east of the Sun for the current morning appearance. Viewed in a telescope (inset), the planet will exhibit a waxing 62% illuminated disk. The elusive inner planet will be separated from the sun by 20 degrees. Mercury's position above a shallowly dipping evening ecliptic will make this an excellent apparition for Northern Hemisphere observers (but a poor one for Southern Hemisphere viewers). The best time to look for Mercury will fall between 6 and 7 a.m. local time.
Thursday, November 28 after sunset — Young Moon Meets Venus and Jupiter
Visible in the southwestern sky for about an hour after sunset on Thursday, November 28, the young crescent moon, Venus, and Jupiter will all appear within seven degrees of one another, making a lovely sight and an excellent wide field photograph. Very bright Venus will be positioned 1.5 degrees below (or to the celestial southwest of) the moon, while Jupiter, somewhat less bright than Venus, will be positioned seven degrees to the lower right (or to the celestial west) of the moon. The dwarf planet Ceres will be located 2 degrees to the lower left of Venus — but only observers at low latitudes will have a dark enough sky to observe magnitude 9.1 Ceres. Hours earlier, at around 09:45 GMT, observers in northern Africa, most of Europe, the Middle East, and western Asia can see the moon occult Jupiter.
Friday, November 29 early evening — Young Moon Meets Saturn
Continuing its late-November tour of the evening planets, the young crescent moon will be positioned only 1.5 degrees to the lower left (or celestial south) of Saturn on the evening of Friday, November 29. The duo will make a fine sight in binoculars and backyard telescopes (red circle). The moon will occult Saturn for observers in southern New Zealand, Antarctica, and Sandwich Islands.