The amazing night skies of November

By Francis Parnell

November is a good time to start learning the constellations and star names. You can print out monthly star charts on the Sky & Telescope website, or download an astronomy app. Looking up and identifying what you’re seeing is a lot of fun! Looking south-southeast at dawn, 30 minutes before sunrise on the 12th, spot a thin crescent Moon with brilliant Venus about 7 degrees below it. Mercury can be seen about 15 degrees lower left of Venus. Thirty minutes before sunrise on the 13th, a very thin sliver of a lunar crescent can be spotted 5 degrees above Mercury. Looking south-southwest at dusk on the 18th, the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn form a shallow arc about 10 degrees long. On the 19th at dusk, the Moon has moved past Jupiter and Saturn and forms a triangle with the two planets. At sunset on the 25th, the waxing gibbous Moon and bright red Mars are less than 5 degrees apart in the south-southeast. Forty-five minutes after sunset, look southwest to spot bright Jupiter and Saturn. Jupiter catches up with Saturn in December for their first conjunction in 20 years and their closest in centuries! FAST FACT: Ever been under a dark sky, gazed at the thousands of stars and felt a connection? Prof. Carl Sagan has a great quote to explain why. “The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies, were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of star stuff.” Happy Thanksgiving, stay safe and “Keep looking up!”

Author: Rachel Howell

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