(Please note all times are UT and are based on an observing location of Belfast and covers the month of November)
At the start of the month, the Sun rises at 07:25 and sets at 16:45. By month's end, it rises at 08:20 and sets at 16:00.
Mercury is at greatest eastern elongation on the 6th and is at inferior conjunction on the 27th. It is not easily visible this month.
Venus is a morning object this month. At month’s end it rises at 04:35 in Virgo and is mag -4.5.
Mars is visible in the evening sky during the month. It sets at 23:35 and fades from mag -0.6 to mag +0.0 during the month. It moves from Capricornus to Aquarius during the month.
Jupiter is visible as an evening object at the start of the month when it sets at 17:25. After that it is not visible and is at conjunction on the 26th.
Saturn is an evening object in Sagittarius during the month. At the start of the month, it sets at 19:35 and by month’s end, it sets at 17:50. It maintains its brightness at mag +0.6 during the month.
Uranus is an evening object in Aries during the month. At the start of the month, it sets at 06:35. By month’s end it sets at 04:35. It maintains its brightness at mag +5.7 during the month and lies near to Omicron (ο) Piscium, mag +4.2.
Neptune is an evening object in Aquarius. At the start of the month, it sets at 02:00. By month’s end, it sets at 00:05. It maintains its brightness at mag +7.9 during the month. It lies between Phi (φ) Aquarii, mag +4.2 and Lambda (λ) Aquarii, mag +3.7.
The new moon is on the 7th (16:02) with the first quarter moon on the 15th (14:54). The full moon is on the 23rd (05:39) with the last quarter moon on the 30th (00:19).
2nd am the 34% waning crescent lies N of Regulus (Alpha (α) Leonis, mag +1.4) at 02:00.
6th am the 3% waning crescent lies NE of Spica (Alpha (α) Virginis, mag +1.0) and Venus at 06:00.
11th pm the 16% waxing crescent lies N of Saturn at 17:00.
15th pm the First Quarter moon lies W of Mars at 17:00.
16th pm the 60% waxing gibbous lies E of Mars and SW of Neptune at 17:00.
17th pm the 69% waxing gibbous lies SE of Neptune at 17:00.
20th pm the 92% waxing gibbous lies SW of Uranus at 17:00.
22nd pm the near Full Moon lies SW of M45 – The Pleiades at 17:00.
23rd pm the just past Full Moon lies N of Aldebaran (Alpha (α) Tauri, mag +0.9) at 18:00.
28th pm the 61% waning gibbous lies N of Regulus (Alpha (α) Leonis, mag +1.4) at 00:00.
29th pm the Last Quarter moon lies SE of Regulus (Alpha (α) Leonis, mag +1.4) at 00:00.
The best time to observe meteor showers is when the moon is below the horizon; otherwise its bright glare limits the number you will see especially the fainter ones. Below is a guide to this month's showers.
The Leonids peak on the night of the 17th with a ZHR of 15. The radiant is visible from midnight with the best conditions after the 71% waxing gibbous moon has set in Aquarius at 01:35 on the 18th.
There may be additional minor showers this month, details of which can be found in the below Information Sources and Links Section.
Asteroid (3) Juno is at opposition on the evening of the 17th and is mag +7.4. It can be found in Eridanus near the boundary with Taurus and is visible from 20:00 low in the South on the 17th.
Finder charts and further information about other fainter asteroids can be found in the below Information Sources and Links Section.
Comet 46P/Wirtanen is predicted to reach mag +3 in December. It is currently mag +10. In November, it is still making its way North and may be visible low in the South during the 2nd half of the month. At mid-month, it is in Fornax near the Cetus boundary and is visible from 22:00 to 02:00. It passes by Kappa (κ) Fornacis, mag +5.2 around the 27th and ends the month in Cetus.
It will move rapidly North in December passing by M45 – The Pleiades and Capella (Alpha (α) Aurigae, mag +0.1).
Comet 38P/Stephan-Oterma is predicted to peak at mag +9 in November. It is currently mag +10 and is in Gemini during the month. It is visible from 22:00 at the start of the month and by month’s end, it is visible from 20:00. It passes by NGC 2392 – The Eskimo Nebula on the 9th. Around the 18th, it passes by Kappa (κ) Geminorum, mag +3.5 and around the 28th, it passes by Chi (χ) Geminorum, mag +4.9.
Finder charts and further information about the above and other fainter comets can be found in the below Information Sources and Links Section. Any of the above estimates are based on current information at the time of writing the guide and can be wrong - “Comets are like cats; they have tails, and they do precisely what they want”, David H Levy.
On the deep sky front this month, galaxies M81 and M82 can be observed in Ursa Major. In Andromeda, M31 - The Andromeda galaxy can be observed along with its satellite galaxies M32 and M110. In Perseus, there is the open cluster M34 and the excellent Double Cluster - NGC 869 and 884. In Triangulum, there is the galaxy M33. In Auriga there are three open clusters M36, M37 and M38 and also M35 in Gemini. Taurus has the excellent Pleiades - M45, the Hyades and also M1 - The Crab Nebula. Orion returns to our skies with M42 - The Great Orion Nebula and also Cancer with M44 - The Beehive Cluster.
Always keep an eye out for Aurorae. Other interesting naked eye phenomena to look out for include the Zodiacal Light and the Gegenschein. Both are caused by sunlight reflecting off dust particles which are present in the solar system.
The Zodiacal Light can be seen in the West after evening twilight has disappeared or in the East before the morning twilight. The best time of year to see the phenomenon is late-Feb to early-April in the evening sky and September/October in the morning sky - it's then that the ecliptic, along which the cone of the zodiacal light lies, is steepest in our skies. The Gegenschein can be seen in the area of the sky opposite the sun. To view either, you must get yourself to a very dark site to cut out the light pollution. When trying to observe either of these phenomena, it is best to do so when the moon is below the horizon. A new appendix has been added explaining some of the more technical terms used in the guide.
The ZHR or Zenithal Hourly Rate is the number of meteors an observer would see in one hour under a clear, dark sky with a limiting apparent magnitude of 6.5 and if the radiant of the shower were in the zenith. The rate that can effectively be seen is nearly always lower and decreases as the radiant is closer to the horizon. The Zenith is the overhead point in the sky.