|Events during November
|14th - Mercury is at greatest elongation (23š).
25th - Partial Solar Eclipse - Visible from South Africa, Antarctica, Tasmania and New Zealand. Only Antarctica sees a significant eclipse,
varying from 35% in South Africa and Tasmania to 90%, with the Sun on the horizon, near the South American side of the Antarctic.
MOON: Full - 10th, New - 25th, Apogee - 406,180 kilometres - 8th, Perigee - 359,690 kilometres - 23rd.
Meteor Showers during November
The Taurids meteor shower lasts throughout November with slow meteors,
some bright, from below Pleiades (M45 in the constellation of Taurus). Peak rate is from
2nd to 7th November which, between a waxing First Quarter and Full Moon, means that moonlight will interfere with observation at this time.
The Leonids meteor shower is at its height from the 15th to 20th November with the radiant just above
Regulus (star 1 in the constellation of Leo). Peak rate is on the 18th when the Moon will be at Last
Quarter and interfere with observation.
The best way to observe meteors is to lie outdoors in a reclining chair or sun-lounger. Try to take in as much of the sky as possible. When you see a meteor
mentally trace it backwards until you arrive at the radiant point.
Mercury reaches greatest elongation
November 14th. For observors in tropical and southern latitudes it is visible as an evening object until the last week of November. For observors in the southern
hemisphere this is an interesting apparition of Mercury due to its proximity to Venus during the first two weeks of November.
The best times to observe Mercury in the northen hemisphere are when it is an evening star in the spring and a morning star in the autumn. In midsummer
the lighter skies make visibility difficult near the horizon.
Venus, magnitude -3.9, is visible in the western sky after sunset for observors in the tropics
and the southern hemisphere. It will make a brilliant spectacle in the sky, next to the much fainter Mercury, for the first two weeks of November.
Observors in northern latitudes will have to wait until December for a true Venusian (evening) spectacle.
On the 8th June 2004, Venus was at inferior conjunction
and transited the sun. Transits of Venus are rare, taking place at greater
than 100 year intervals and usually in pairs. The last two transits of Venus were in 1874 and 1882. 2004's transit lasted 6 hours, the total event
visible from Europe as a small black disc crossing the lower part of the Sun from left to right. The next transit will be on 5th June 2012.
After that, transits of Venus won't occur again until 2117 and 2125.
Before and after inferior conjuction, when Venus is
the closest it comes to the Earth, are the times at which the planet is most brilliant and can be seen setting or rising
4 hours after or before the Sun.
Mars brightens from +1.1 to +0.7 magnitude during November. Mars remains in
and by the end of November is rising before midnight from the northern hemisphere and
slightly after midnight for observors in the southern hemisphere.
There is no opposition of Mars in 2011.
At opposition on the 28th August 2003, Mars was only 56 million kilometres from the Earth. It showed a
disc of 25.1 seconds of arc across which is almost as large as it can ever appear. Mars started 2003 at 310 million kilometres from
the earth at 4.5 seconds of arc and 1.6 magnitude. By opposition it brightened 50 times to reach -2.9 magnitude but faded to 0
magnitude by December. Even to the naked eye Mars was a striking object in the summer and autumn sky, easily identifiable by its
reddish hue in an area of sky poor in bright stars. Mars will not be as close again until 2018.
These favourable oppositions occur every 15 or 17 years but other oppositions occur at average intervals of 2 years 2 months during
which time the planet makes a complete circle of the Earth. In general Mars is observable every other year, being too close to the sun for favourable conditions
during other times. Brightness at opposition varies from -1.0 to -2.9 magnitude, and when furthest from the earth it fades to 1.7 magnitude. The planet can be
identified by its orange-red colour.
As in 2003, Mars comes nearest to the Earth at oppositions at the end of August. At these times it can be brighter than Jupiter,
although low in the sky in Aquarius for northern observors. In the northern hemisphere, the planet may be better seen at oppostions during autumn and winter months
when it is higher in the sky.
Jupiter is just past opposition and is
still visible and bright all night long. The planet is in Aries but its retrograde
motion carries it back to the border with Pisces during November.
After spending the past six years in the southern skies, Jupiter moved north of the celestial equator on February 5th 2011 to spend the next six years
in northern skies.
Varying from 603 (at its closest) to 770 million kilometres from the sun, the difference in brightness between opposition and conjunction varies less than
with Mars, from about -2.9 to -1.8 magnitude. Always a bright planet, Jupiter comes to opposition a month later each year, moving approximately from one zodiacal
constellation to the next.
The 4 largest of Jupiterīs 60 moons are easily visible through binoculars or a small telescope, ranging from 4.6 to 5.6 in magnitude. The innermost,
Io, takes 1.8 days to orbit the planet making its motion easily detectable within a few minutes.
Saturn passed through superior conjunction
in mid-October and is now becoming visible low in the eastern sky just before dawn. The planet remains in Virgo at
Saturn moves more slowly than Jupiter and can remain in the same constellation for several years. The brightness of the planet depends on the
aspect of its rings, as well as its distance from Earth and the Sun.
The planet crossed the equator into the northern hemisphere in 1996 where it remained until 2010 with the southern side of the ring system
facing Earth. Because of its distance, its brightness varies little between opposition and conjunction but is affected by the huge ring system. Seen edge on the
rings contribute little or no light.
Every 15 years the plane of Saturn's rings passes through the Sun, illuminating first the north and then the south side. For a few days the
rings are edge on to the Sun. About the same time the Earth passes through the ring plane and, depending on the Earth's position, this may happen just once or 3 times.
During 1995/96 there was a triple crossing and the next will be 2038/39. The last single crossing was in 2009 and the next will be in 2025.
Saturn's largest moon, Titan, is visible in small telescopes orbiting outside of the ring system.
Uranus remains in Pisces with a magnitude of +5.7. Although
barely visible to the naked eye, it is easily located with binoculars.
Brightness varies only slightly, reaching a maximum of +5.6 magnitude at opposition. Although this is bright enough to see with the naked eye, identifying it against
the stars can be difficult. At closest approach, Uranus is 2,856 million kilometres (1,775 million miles) from Earth.
Neptune is a morning object in Aquarius
visible in binoculars or a small telescope.
Neptune has an average magnitude of 7.9 which varies little with changing distance. At its closest,
Neptune is 4,341 million kilometres (2,697 million miles) from Earth.
No longer an offical planet and never brighter than +13 magnitude, Pluto is only visible through powerful telescopes.
First quarter: 2nd
Full moon: 10th
Last quarter: 18th
New moon: 25th