This Week’s Sky at a Glance, November 12 – 20

Nova Cassiopeiae 2021 was nonetheless about magnitude 8.2 as of November eleventh, virtually 8 months after it erupted. Charts and comparison stars.


■ This night the Moon shines left of Jupiter and Saturn, forming a mild curving arc with them.

■ For binoculars: The largest asteroid, 1 Ceres, is presently passing simply above the little tilted House asterism within the Hyades, situated a finger-width at arm’s size west of Aldebaran. At magnitude 7.3, Ceres will not be too onerous in binoculars. Its path is mapped within the November Sky & Telescope, web page 50 (the place the date ticks are for 0:00 Universal time, which falls on the night of the earlier date for North America.)

Aldebaran and the Hyades are nicely up within the east by 9 p.m. commonplace time, and higher by 10. Robert C. Victor factors out to us that tonight, “Ceres is passing north of the naked-eye pair Theta-1 and Theta-2 Tauri,” the brightest stars of the House. “These stars are 5.5 arcminutes apart, magnitudes 3.8 and 3.4. The 5.0-mag. star 75 Tauri [the House’s pointed roof] is 24 arcminutes north of Theta-1. On November 12, Ceres passes within 9 arcminutes north of 75 Tauri. This conjunction takes place in the afternoon for North America, with Ceres moving west by 12 arcminutes per day.”

You’ll want a low east-northeast horizon to strive for Mercury departing and Mars rising within the daybreak. Bring these binoculars! Day by day, Mercury will sink decrease and Mars will creep simply a little greater. Spica factors the way.

To discover Spica? It’s about three fists at arm’s size decrease proper of brighter Arcturus.


■ Look very excessive above the Moon for the Great Square of Pegasus. When you face south, the Square is degree like a field by about 7 p.m. It’s considerably bigger than your fist at arm’s size. Its stars are 2nd and Third magnitude.

A sky landmark to recollect: The west (right-hand) facet of the Great Square factors far down virtually to 1st-magnitude Fomalhaut. The east facet of the Square factors down towards Beta Ceti not as straight, and never as far.

■ Vega is the brightest star excessive within the west on November evenings. Its little constellation Lyra extends to its left, pointing as all the time to Altair, which is presently the brightest star within the southwest.

Three of Lyra’s stars close to Vega are attention-grabbing doubles. Barely above Vega is 4th-magnitude Epsilon Lyrae, the Double-Double. Epsilon kinds one nook of a roughly equilateral triangle with Vega and Zeta Lyrae. The triangle is lower than 2° on a facet, hardly the width of your thumb at arm’s size.

Binoculars simply resolve Epsilon. And a 4-inch telescope at 100× or extra ought to, throughout good seeing, resolve every of Epsilon’s vast parts into a tight pair.

Zeta can be a double star for binoculars. It’s a lot nearer and harder, however is plainly resolved in a small telescope.

And Delta Lyrae, higher left of Zeta by a comparable distance, is a a lot wider and simpler binocular pair. Its stars are reddish orange and blue.


■ In early night Altair shines within the southwest about midway up the sky, three or 4 fists left of brighter Vega. Altair is the one vivid star in that space. It’s the attention of Aquila, the Eagle.

Just higher proper of Altair, by a finger’s width at arm’s size, is Third-magnitude Tarazed. Down from there runs Aquila’s dim spine, alongside the Milky Way when the sky is darkish and moonless.

This association jogs my memory of one other Summer Triangle chicken, Cygnus the Swan, whose lengthy neck and spine additionally run alongside the Milky Way. Cygnus presently flies excessive to Aquila’s higher proper.

■ Algol in Perseus must be at its minimal brightness, magnitude 3.4 as an alternative of its regular 2.1, for a couple hours tonight centered on 12:36 a.m. EST (9:36 p.m. PST). Algol takes a number of further hours to fade and to rebrighten.


■ By about 8 or 9 p.m. Orion is clearing the jap horizon (relying on how far east or west you reside in your time zone). High above Orion shines orange Aldebaran. Above Aldebaran is the little Pleiades cluster, the scale of your fingertip at arm’s size.

Far left of Aldebaran and the Pleiades shines vivid Capella.

Down beneath Orion, Sirius rises round 10 or 11 p.m. No matter the place they’re, Sirius all the time follows two hours behind Orion. Or equivalently, one month behind Orion.


■ Around 8 p.m., relying on the place you reside, zero-magnitude Capella rises precisely as excessive within the northeast as zero-magnitude Vega has sunk within the west-northwest; the season is tipping to chilly.

■ The Leonid meteor bathe, usually weak to start with, ought to peak very late tonight however will likely be largely washed out by the sunshine of the waxing gibbous Moon. If you need to strive, nevertheless, you do have about an hour of moonless darkness between moonset and the start of daybreak (for the mid-latitudes of North America).


■ Fomalhaut is the 1st-magnitude star twinkling about two fists at arm’s size decrease left of Jupiter. Whenever Fomalhaut is “southing” (crossing the meridian due south, which it does round 7 p.m. this week), flip round: The Pointers of the Big Dipper stand upright low due north, straight beneath Polaris.

Also at this time, flip east: The first stars of Orion are quickly to rise above the jap true horizon (for the world’s mid-northern latitudes). Starting with the rise of Betelgeuse, it takes Orion’s fundamental determine about an hour to utterly clear the horizon.

■ Algol must be at minimal brightness for about two hours centered on 9:25 p.m. EST.


■ Full Moon. A bizarre, borderline partial-total eclipse of the Moon awaits you within the early-morning hours of Friday the nineteenth when you’re in North or Central America; in the midst of the evening for elements of the Pacific Ocean; and on the night of Friday the nineteenth native date for Australia and the Far East.

Mid-eclipse is at 9:03 November 19 UT (4:03 a.m. on the nineteenth EST; 1:03 a.m. on the nineteenth PST; 11:03 p.m. on the 18th Hawaii time). The partial section of the eclipse begins 1 hour quarter-hour earlier than that point and ends 1 hour quarter-hour after.

The Moon will likely be close to the Pleiades, Hyades, and Aldebaran in Taurus. For extra see the article, map, and timetable within the November Sky & Telescope beginning on web page 48.

Cloudy the place you might be? Are you on the mistaken facet of Earth? The Virtual Telescope Project begins a (*20*) at 7:00 UT Nov. 19 (2 a.m. EST).

The full Moon on the 18th will shine all vivid and harmless through the night for North America, with no trace of what is to return in a few hours.

On the nineteenth, as a result of the Moon is plotted for nicely after darkish within the Central time zone, we see it right here after it has already crossed the Pleiades-Aldebaran line. (As all the time in these scenes, the Moon is drawn about thrice its precise obvious dimension.)


■ The Moon, simply previous full, shines in early night virtually precisely midway between the Pleiades above it and Aldebaran beneath it, relying in your location. The Moon is exactly in line between them round dusk for a lot of North America’s East Coast. Holding up a ruler or a pencil to the sky, how precisely are you able to time the Moon’s passage throughout this line? To mark the middle of the Pleiades, choose Alcyone, the cluster’s brightest star.

Watch the Moon transfer farther east of this line hour by hour by means of the evening, because it creeps eternally eastward in its orbit round Earth.


■ Venus and Jupiter, the 2 brightest celestial objects after the Sun and the Moon, blaze throughout and after twilight a little much less far aside each week. Venus is low within the southwest; Jupiter is excessive within the south. Saturn glows lower than midway from Jupiter to Venus.

Watch this line of three shorten for the following month.


This Week’s Planet Roundup

Mercury, magnitude –1.0, is on the way out, dropping decrease into the dawn glow each morning. Have a final strive for Mercury — and a very early strive for Mars close by utilizing binoculars on the morning of the thirteenth. Start from Spica greater above, as proven at the highest of this web page.

To discover Spica? It’s about three fists at arm’s size decrease proper of brighter Arcturus.

Venus, a very good magnitude –4.7, shines within the southwest throughout and after twilight. This week it is crossing the vastly fainter Sagittarius Teapot. Venus would not set now till greater than an hour after darkish. It will proceed to shine simply a little greater and brighter by means of the top of November.

Mars, a mere magnitude +1.6, is rising deep within the dawn to start its subsequent apparition, which is able to final virtually two years. (Mars’s opposition, the near-midpoint of the apparition, will come on the evening of December 7, 2022 when, by coincidence, the Moon, essentially full, will occult it for a lot of North America!)

Mars begins this week within the neighborhood of Mercury even decrease within the daybreak, as proven at the highest of this web page. Bring binoculars.

Jupiter and Saturn proceed to shine within the south throughout night, 16° aside in Capricornus. Jupiter is the brilliant one at magnitude –2.4. Saturn, to its decrease proper, is magazine +0.6. Saturn is the primary to set, round 9 or 10 p.m. Jupiter follows it down about an hour later.

Look 22° (two fists at arm’s size) decrease left of Jupiter for Fomalhaut, the Autumn Star, magnitude +1.2.

Uranus (magnitude 5.7, in southern Aries) is nicely up within the east by 7 p.m. See Bob King’s Uranus Queues Up for Opposition.

Neptune (magnitude 7.9, at the Aquarius-Pisces border) is already excessive within the southeast at dusk.

All descriptions that relate to your horizon — together with the phrases up, down, proper, and left — are written for the world’s mid-northern latitudes. Descriptions and graphics that additionally depend upon longitude (primarily Moon positions) are for North America.

Eastern Standard Time, EST, is Universal Time (additionally referred to as UT, UTC, GMT, or Z time) minus 5 hours.

Want to develop into a higher astronomer? Learn your way across the constellations. They’re the important thing to finding every thing fainter and deeper to hunt with binoculars or a telescope.

This is an outside nature pastime. For an easy-to-use constellation information protecting the entire night sky, use the large month-to-month map within the heart of every concern of Sky & Telescope, the journal of the American Astronomical Society.

Once you get a telescope, to place it to good use you will want a detailed, large-scale sky atlas (set of charts). The fundamental commonplace is the Pocket Sky Atlas (in both the original or Jumbo Edition), which exhibits stars to magnitude 7.6.

Pocket Sky Atlas cover, Jumbo edition
The Pocket Sky Atlas plots 30,796 stars to magnitude 7.6, and a whole lot of telescopic galaxies, star clusters, and nebulae amongst them. Shown right here is the Jumbo Edition, which is in onerous covers and enlarged for simpler studying open air by red flashlight. Sample charts. More about the current editions.

Next up is the bigger and deeper Sky Atlas 2000.0, plotting stars to magnitude 8.5; practically thrice as many. The subsequent up, as soon as you already know your way round, are the even bigger Interstellarum atlas (stars to magnitude 9.5) or Uranometria 2000.0 (stars to magnitude 9.75). And be sure you learn How to Use a Star Chart with a Telescope.

You’ll additionally need a good deep-sky guidebook, similar to the large Night Sky Observer’s Guide set by Kepple and Sanner.

Can a computerized telescope substitute charts? Not for inexperienced persons, I do not suppose, and never on mounts and tripods which are lower than top-quality mechanically, that means heavy and costly. And as Terence Dickinson and Alan Dyer say of their Backyard Astronomer’s Guide, “A full appreciation of the universe cannot come without developing the skills to find things in the sky and understanding how the sky works. This knowledge comes only by spending time under the stars with star maps in hand.”

Audio sky tour. Out below the night sky together with your
earbuds in place, take heed to Kelly Beatty’s month-to-month
podcast tour of the heavens above. It’s free.

“The dangers of not thinking clearly are much greater now than ever before. It’s not that there’s something new in our way of thinking, it’s that credulous and confused thinking can be much more lethal in ways it was never before.”
            — Carl Sagan, 1996

“Facts are stubborn things.”
            — John Adams, 1770

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