(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 16:50. By month's end, it rises at 08:20 and sets at 16:00.
Transit of Mercury
Mercury goes across the Sun’s disk on the 11th. It starts at 12:35 and the event is still ongoing at sunset at 16:30. A small telescope or binoculars will be required to observe this event with the next one not until 2032!
Never view the Sun directly with the naked eye or with any unfiltered optical device, such as binoculars or a telescope! Make sure you use proper solar filters to observe this safely.
24th pm Venus and Jupiter – Venus 1.25 degrees to the South of Jupiter.
Mercury is at inferior conjunction on the 11th (see above) and will appear in the morning sky towards the end of the month. It is at greatest western elongation on the 28th. At month’s end it is in Libra and rises at 06:20 and is mag -0.5.
Venus is in the evening sky albeit very low. At the start of the month, it sets at 17:20 and is mag -3.8 in Libra. By month’s end, it sets at 17:25 and is still mag -3.8 but now in Sagittarius. It has a close encounter with Jupiter (see above).
Mars is visible in the morning sky in Virgo. It rises at 05:30 and brightens from mag +1.8 to mag +1.7 during the month.
Jupiter is visible in the evening sky moving from Ophiuchus to Sagittarius during the month. At the start of the month, it sets at 18:40 and by month’s end, it sets at 17:10. It fades from mag -1.8 to mag -1.7 during the month.
Saturn visible in the evening sky in Sagittarius. At the start of the month, it sets at 20:20 and by month’s end it sets at 18:40. It maintains its brightness at mag +0.6 during the month.
Uranus is visible in the evening sky in Aries. It rises during daylight hours during the month and sets at 05:00 by month’s end. It maintains its brightness at mag +5.7 during the month.
Neptune is visible in the evening sky in Aquarius. During the month, it rises during daylight hours and by month’s end it sets at 00:20. It maintains its brightness at mag +7.8 during the month.
The first quarter moon is on the 4th (10:23) with the full moon on the 12th (13:34). The last quarter moon is on the 19th (21:11) with the new moon on the 26th (15:06).
1st pm the 25% waxing crescent lies SW of Saturn and NE of Jupiter at 18:00.
2nd pm the 34% waxing crescent lies E of Saturn at 18:00.
7th pm the 80% waxing gibbous lies SE of Neptune at 18:00.
10th pm the 97% waxing gibbous lies SW of Uranus at 18:00.
11th pm the near full moon lies SE of Uranus at 18:00.
13th pm the 99% waning gibbous lies NW of Aldebaran (Alpha (α) Tauri, mag +0.9) at 19:00.
14th pm the 95% waning gibbous lies E of Aldebaran (Alpha (α) Tauri, mag +0.9) at 19:00.
19th pm/20th am the 49% waning crescent lies NE of Regulus (Alpha (α) Leonis, mag +1.4) at 00:00.
23rd am the 15% waning crescent lies N of Spica (Alpha (α) Virginis, mag +1.0) at 06:00.
24th am the 8% waning crescent lies E of Spica (Alpha (α) Virginis, mag +1.0) and N of Mars at 06:00.
25th am the 2% waning crescent lies SE of Mercury at 07:00.
28th pm the 5% waxing crescent lies W of Venus and E of Jupiter at 17:00.
29th pm the 11% waxing crescent lies SW of Saturn and NE of Jupiter and Venus at 17:00.
30th pm the 18% waxing crescent lies NE of Saturn at 18:00.
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/18th with a ZHR of 15. The radiant is visible from midnight, but it is a poor year for the shower with a 71% waning gibbous rising in Cancer at 20:30 and ruining the show all night.
There may be additional minor showers this month, details of which can be found in the below Information Sources and Links Section.
Asteroid (4) Vesta is at opposition during daylight hours on the 12th at mag +6.5 in Cetus. It will be visible from 19:00 on the nights of the 11th/12th and 12th/13th.
Finder charts and further information about other fainter asteroids can be found in the below Information Sources and Links Section.
There are no bright comets this month.
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.