Night sky guide for November 2015

Night sky guide for November 2015

Out of two meteor showers scheduled for November - Taurids and Leonids - only the second one should offer a good show, with about 15 meteors per hour on November 17/18. All but the brightest Taurids, expected to peak on the night of November 5, will be blocked out by the second quarter moon. 

The best time of the month to observe faint objects - new moon - falls on November 11. 

This month's full moon, known as the Frosty Moon and the Hunter's Moon, is on November 25. 

  • November 1 - Fornax is well placed for observation. Reaching its highest point in the sky around midnight local time, Fornax dwarf spheroidal galaxy will be well placed for observations across much of the world on November 1. At a declination of -34°27', it is easiest to see from the southern hemisphere and cannot be seen from latitudes much north of 35°N. At magnitude 9.0, this galaxy is quite faint, and certainly not visible to the naked eye, but can be viewed through a pair of binoculars or small telescope.

  • November 3 - Conjunction between Venus and Mars - 07:48 UTC. Venus and Mars will make a close approach, passing within 0°40' of each other on November 3, 2015. At the moment of closest approach, Venus will be at mag -5.0, and Mars at mag 1.4, both in the constellation Virgo. They 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 4 - P/1999 R1 (SOHO) at perihelion and its brightest. Comet P/1999 R1 (SOHO) will make its closest approach to the Sun, at a distance of 0.05 AU, on November 4. The comet is forecast to reach its brightest, at around mag -4.1, at a distance of 0.94 AU from the Earth.

  • November 5, 6 - Taurid meteor shower peak. The Taurids are a long-running minor meteor shower producing only about 5-10 meteors per hour. This shower runs annually from September 7 to December 10 and 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 by debris left behind by Comet 2P Encke. The second quarter moon will block out all but the brightest meteors this year.

  • November 6 - Asteroid 39 Laetitia at opposition - 23:33 UTC. Asteroid 39 Laetitia will be well placed for observation, lying in the constellation Cetus, well above the horizon for much of the night. Regardless of your location on the Earth, 39 Laetitia will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time.

  • November 6 - Conjunction between the Moon and Jupiter - 14:29 UTC. The Moon and Jupiter will make a close approach, passing within 2°08' of each other on November 6. At the moment of closest approach, the Moon will be at mag -10.9, and Jupiter at mag -1.9, both in the constellation Leo. They will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

  • November 7 - Conjunction between the Moon and Mars - 08:47 UTC. The Moon and Mars will make a close approach, passing within 1°43' of each other on November 7. The Moon will be at mag -10.6, and Mars at mag 1.4, both in the constellation Virgo. They will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

  • November 7 - Conjunction between the Moon and Venus - 13:03 UTC.  The pair will make a close approach, passing within 1°10' of each other, in the constellation Virgo. At the moment of closest approach, the Moon will be at mag -10.5, and Venus at mag -5.0, both. They will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

  • ​November 10 - 10P/Tempel reaches its brightest. Comet 10P/Tempel is forecast to reach its brightest, at around mag 10.7, on November 10. It will lie at a distance of 1.42 AU from the Sun, and at a distance of 1.83 AU from the Earth.

  • November 11 - New Moon - 17:47 UTC. The Moon will pass close to the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky. 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 15 - 10P/Tempel at perihelion. Comet 10P/Tempel will make its closest approach to the Sun, at a distance of 1.42 AU.

  • November 16 - C/2013 US10 (Catalina) at perihelion. Comet C/2013 US10 (Catalina) will make its closest approach to the Sun, at a distance of 0.83 AU on November 16.

  • November 17 - Mercury at superior solar conjunction - 14:35 UTC. At closest approach, Mercury and the Sun will appear at a separation of only 0°14', making Mercury totally unobservable for several weeks while it is lost in the Sun's glare. Mercury will also pass apogee – the time when it is most distant from the Earth – within a few days of the same time, since it will lie exactly opposite to the Earth in the Solar System. Mercury's reaching superior conjunction marks the end of its apparition in the morning sky and its transition to become an evening object over the next few weeks.

  • November 17, 18 - Leonid meteor shower peak. This year, Leonids peak on the night of November 17 and morning of the 18th. The first quarter moon will set shortly after midnight leaving fairly dark skies for what could be a good show. This is an average shower, produced by dust grains left behind by comet Tempel-Tuttle, offering up to 15 meteors per hour at its peak. It is unique in that it has a cyclonic peak about every 33 years where hundreds of meteors per hour can be seen. The last of these occurred in 2001. 

  • November 18 - M45 is 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 and 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 20 - Asteroid 192 Nausikaa at opposition - 22:32 UTC. Asteroid 192 Nausikaa will be well placed for observation, lying in the constellation Perseus, well above the horizon for much of the night. Regardless of your location on the Earth, 192 Nausikaa will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time.

  • November 22 - Conjunction between the Moon and Uranus - 19:09 UTC. The Moon and Uranus will make a close approach, passing within 0°53' of each other, on November 22. At the moment of closest approach, the Moon will be at mag -12.6, and Uranus at mag 5.8, both in the constellation Pisces. They will be visible to the naked eye or a through a pair of binoculars.

  • November 25 - Full Moon - 22:44 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 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 - C/2013 US10 (Catalina) reaches its brightest. Comet C/2013 US10 (Catalina) is forecast to reach its brightest, at around mag 3.5. It will lie at a distance of 0.85 AU from the Sun, and at a distance of 1.62 AU from the Earth.

  • November 30 - Saturn at solar conjunction - 00:19 UTC. Saturn will appear very close to the Sun in the sky as it passes around the far side of the Solar System from the Earth. At closest approach, Saturn and the Sun will appear at a separation of only 1°38', making Saturn totally unobservable for several weeks while it is lost in the Sun's glare. At around the same time, Saturn will also be at its most distant from the Earth – receding to a distance of 10.99 AU – since the two planets will lie on opposite sides of the Solar System.

Video courtesy of Hubble Space Telescope

Sources: InTheSky (Dominic Ford)SeaSky

Featured image: Background image from Leonid Meteor Shower Timelapse by Nate Bolt (CC - Flickr). Edit: TW.

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