Looking Up November 2023

The planet Mercury makes an appearance in our evening
sky this month, though it’s not the best of the year. The
planet makes a slow ascent above the west-southwestern
sky. Though Mercury was officially above the horizon in
get a
look at
it until after the middle of November. A super thin crescent Moon is left of Mercury on the 14th, but the pair will
be really low. By November 30th, Mercury sets in the
southwest at 5:30pm, a little more than an hour after sunset. Greatest separation from the Sun occurs on December 4th
Saturn and Jupiter are nicely placed in our November
evening sky. Saturn is pretty close to due south as the sky
becomes full dark, and about 35 degrees above the horizon. Don’t confuse it for the star Fomalhaut, which is below and left of Saturn. Saturn is also slightly brighter. A
first quarter Moon is just left of Saturn on the evening of
November 20th
Jupiter has an opposition on November 2nd at a distance
of 370 million miles. And, at magnitude -2.9, it’ll be the
brightest object in the sky besides the Moon and before
Venus rises. It outshines the bright star Capella, further to
the north. Look for Jupiter rising nearly due east as the
Sun sets. You can’t miss it! A nearly full Moon is near Jupiter on the 24th and 25th (Thanksgiving weekend).
While we’re in the area, the planet Uranus also reaches
opposition on the 13th. Though they seem near each other in the sky, Uranus is over 4 ½ times farther away than
Jupiter. And you can use Jupiter to help you find Uranus.
You’ll need some binoculars. Trace a line from Jupiter
below and quite a ways to the left to find the Pleiades Star
Cluster. Bisect this line and look a little below and this is
the field of view of Uranus. It’ll appear as a bluish “star”
so you’ll need a finder chart. Look near the end of the
issue for the NASA article and you can also print your own
chart at in-the-sky.org.
Venus will rise in our morning sky, at 3am in the middle of
November. It rises at roughly the same time as the bright
star Arcturus. Sure, Arcturus is bright but it’s no match for
Venus. Same for the star Spica, below and right of Venus.
The rise time
for Venus will
be earlier as
we go
through November, but,
in relation to
the sunrise
time, it’s
about the
same (about
3 hours and
45 minutes).
If you set an
alarm to
check out Venus but you’re not an early-riser, choose the
morning of the 9th when a crescent Moon (15% lit) is only
a half-degree from the planet (see the image).
The Leonid Meteor Shower peaks on morning of November 18th. This is the shower that’s spectacular every 33
years. Unfortunately this isn’t one of those years. You
still might see a dozen meteors per hour in the sky. The
Moon should be out of the sky after midnight if you want
to see how many you can count.