Night Sky Guide for November 2018


November 4 – 64P/Swift-Gehrels at perihelion. Comet 64P/Swift-Gehrels will make its closest approach to the Sun, at a distance of 1.39 AU.

November 5, 6 – Taurid meteor shower. This is a long-running minor meteor shower producing only about 5 – 10 meteors per hour. It is unusual in that it consists of two separate streams. The first is produced by dust grains left behind by Asteroid 2004 TG10. The second stream is produced by debris left behind by Comet 2P Encke. The shower runs annually from September 7 to December 10. It peaks this year on the night of November 5. The thin crescent moon will set early in the evening leaving dark skies for viewing. Best viewing will be just after midnight from a dark location far away from city lights. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Taurus but can appear anywhere in the sky.

November 6 – Conjunction of the Moon and Venus – 02:24 UTC. The Moon and Venus will share the same right ascension, with the Moon passing 9°32′ to the north of Venus. The Moon will be 28 days old. The Moon will be at mag -8.9, and Venus at mag -4.3, both in the constellation Virgo. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope or pair of binoculars but will be visible to the naked eye.

November 6 – Mercury at greatest elongation east – 14:59 UTC. The planet Mercury reaches greatest eastern elongation of 23.3 degrees from the Sun. This is the best time to view Mercury since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the evening sky. Look for the planet low in the western sky just after sunset.

November 7 – New Moon – 16:03 UTC. The Moon will be located on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky. This phase occurs at 16:02 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.

November 8 – Conjunction of the Moon and Jupiter – 17:37 UTC. The Moon and Jupiter will share the same right ascension, with the Moon passing 3°46′ to the north of Jupiter. The Moon will be 1 day old. The Moon will be at mag -8.0, and Jupiter at mag -1.7, both in the constellation Libra. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

November 9 – Conjunction of the Moon and Mercury – 11:35 UTC. The Moon and Mercury will share the same right ascension, with the Moon passing 6°43′ to the north of Mercury. The Moon will be 2 days old. The Moon will be at mag -9.1, and Mercury at mag -0.2, both in the constellation Ophiuchus. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope or pair of binoculars but will be visible to the naked eye.

November 11 – 38P/Stephan-Oterma at perihelion. Comet 38P/Stephan-Oterma will make its closest approach to the Sun, at a distance of 1.58 AU.

November 11 – Conjunction of the Moon and Saturn – 15:33 UTC. The Moon and Saturn will share the same right ascension, with the Moon passing 1°27′ to the north of Saturn. The Moon will be 4 days old. At around the same time, the two objects will also make a close approach, technically called an appulse. The Moon will be at mag -10.6, and Saturn at mag 0.4, both in the constellation Sagittarius.

November 11 – Close approach of the Moon and Saturn – 15:40 UTC. The Moon and Saturn will make a close approach, passing within 1°26′ of each other. The Moon will be 4 days old. The Moon will be at mag -10.6, and Saturn at mag 0.4, both in the constellation Sagittarius. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars. At around the same time, the two objects will also share the same right ascension – called a conjunction.

November 11 – Mercury at dichotomy – 16:22 UTC. In the southern hemisphere, Mercury will be well placed for observation in the evening sky, shining brightly at mag -0.2. Mercury’s orbit lies closer to the Sun than the Earth’s, meaning that it always appears close to the Sun and is very difficult to observe most of the time. It is observable only for a few days each time it reaches greatest separation from the Sun – moments referred to as greatest elongation.

November 16 – Conjunction of the Moon and Mars – 04:19 UTC. The Moon and Mars will share the same right ascension, with the Moon passing 0°59′ to the south of Mars. The Moon will be 9 days old. At around the same time, the two objects will also make a close approach, technically called an appulse. The Moon will be at mag -11.9, and Mars at mag -0.3, both in the constellation Aquarius. The pair will be a little too widely separated to fit comfortably within the field of view of a telescope but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

November 16 – Close approach of the Moon and Mars – 04:53 UTC. The Moon and Mars will make a close approach, passing within 0°57′ of each other. The Moon will be 9 days old. The Moon will be at mag -11.9, and Mars at mag -0.3, both in the constellation Aquarius. The pair will be a little too widely separated to fit comfortably within the field of view of a telescope but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars. At around the same time, the two objects will also share the same right ascension – called a conjunction.

November 16 – Asteroid 3 Juno at opposition – 12:00 UTC. Asteroid 3 Juno will be well placed for observation, lying in the constellation Eridanus, well above the horizon for much of the night. Regardless of your location on the Earth, 3 Juno will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time.

November 17 – M45 well placed for observation. The Pleiades open star cluster (M45) in Taurus will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of +24°06′, it is easiest to see from the northern hemisphere but cannot be seen from latitudes much south of 45°S. At magnitude 1.6, M45 is visible to the naked eye, but best viewed through a pair of binoculars.

November 17, 18 – Leonid meteor shower. This is an average shower, producing up to 15 meteors per hour at its peak. This shower is unique in that it has a cyclonic peak about every 33 years where hundreds of meteors per hour can be seen. That last of these occurred in 2001. Leonids are produced by dust grains left behind by comet Tempel-Tuttle, which was discovered in 1865. The shower runs annually from November 6 – 30 and peaks this year on the night of the 17th and morning of the 18th. The waxing gibbous moon will set shortly after midnight leaving fairly dark skies for what could be a good early morning show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Leo, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

November 23 – Full Moon – 05:41 UTC. The Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be will be fully illuminated. This phase occurs at 05:40 UTC. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Beaver Moon because this was the time of year to set the beaver traps before the swamps and rivers froze. It has also been known as the Frosty Moon and the Hunter’s Moon.

November 26 – Jupiter at solar conjunction – 06:38 UTC. Jupiter will pass very close to the Sun in the sky as its orbit carries it around the far side of the solar system from the Earth. At closest approach, Jupiter will appear at a separation of only 0°39′ from the Sun, making it totally unobservable for several weeks while it is lost in the Sun’s glare. At around the same time, Jupiter will also be at its most distant from the Earth – receding to a distance of 6.35 AU – since the two planets will lie on opposite sides of the solar system. If Jupiter could be observed at this time, it would appear at its smallest and faintest on account of its large distance. It would measure 30.4 arcsec in diameter. Over the following weeks and months, Jupiter will re-emerge to the west of the Sun, gradually becoming visible for ever-longer periods in the pre-dawn sky. After around six months, it will reach opposition, when it will be visible for virtually the whole night.

November 27 – Mercury at inferior solar conjunction – 09:09 UTC. Mercury will pass very close to the Sun in the sky as its orbit carries it between the Sun and Earth. This occurs once in every synodic cycle of the planet (116 days), and marks the end of Mercury’s apparition in the evening sky and its transition to become a morning object over the next few weeks. At closest approach, Mercury will appear at a separation of only 0°54′ from the Sun, making it totally unobservable for several weeks while it is lost in the Sun’s glare. Mercury will also pass perigee – the time when it is closest to the Earth – at around the same time, since it will lie on exactly the same side of the Sun as the Earth in the Solar System. It will move to within a distance of 0.68 AU from the Earth, making it appear with its largest angular size. If it could be observed, it would measure 9.9 arcsec in diameter, whilst appearing completely unilluminated.

November 27 – Close approach of the Moon and M44 – 21:23 UTC. The Moon and M44 will make a close approach, passing within 0°25′ of each other. The Moon will be 20 days old. The Moon will be at mag -12.4, and M44 at mag 3.1, both in the constellation Cancer. The pair will be close enough to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will also be visible through a pair of binoculars.

November 28 – C/2016 N6 (PANSTARRS) reaches its brightest. Comet C/2016 N6 (PANSTARRS) is forecast to reach its brightest, at around mag 12.2. It will lie at a distance of 3.00 AU from the Sun, and at a distance of 2.49 AU from the Earth.

November 29 – Venus at greatest brightness – 02:23 UTC. Venus will be well placed for observation in the dawn sky, shining brightly at mag -4.7. Venus’s orbit lies closer to the Sun than the Earth’s, meaning that it always appears close to the Sun and is very difficult to observe most of the time. It is observable only for a few weeks each time it reaches greatest separation from the Sun – moments referred to as greatest elongation.

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I run the Higher Self Portal website and YouTube channel.

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