Night sky this month – November
Highlights: Planets on parade in morning sky. Taurid meteors.
Here is a view of the night sky this month as seen from mid-northern latitudes such as London or New York in mid November, 2015, at 10pm (22h UT).
The planets in November 2015
Mercury disappears from view in the morning sky in the early days of the month, reaching superior conjunction, on the far side of the Sun, on 17 November.
Venus is dazzling at magnitude -4.4 in the morning sky, rising more than three hours before the Sun at the start of the month. But as the month progresses, it begins to close back in towards the Sun. On 3 November it lies very close to the much fainter Mars, and not far from Jupiter as these three planets continue their pre-dawn dance.
Mars lies in a changing pattern with Venus and Jupiter in the morning sky, and is noticeably fainter than both of them, at magnitude +1.6, since we are still six months away from Opposition when it is closest to Earth. Find out more about Mars here including maps to show its position in the sky.
Jupiter is a brilliant object, shining at magnitude -1.8 in Leo, so beaten only by the Moon and Venus for brightness in the night sky. Watch its changing position compared to Venus and Mars as the month progresses. A small telescope or binoculars will be enough to show the giant planet’s four main Galilean moons.
Saturn disappears from the evening sky in early November, reaching conjunction on the far side of the Sun on the 29th, and so effectively out of view until December.
A meteor stream rich in fireballs has been active since mid-October. The Taurids have two branches (Northern and Southern) and it is the Northern Taurids which are more active during the first half of November. The peak rate is usually only about 10 under ideal conditions, but they are slow moving and often very bright. The Taurids are debris associated with Comet Encke.
Another famous shower, the Leonids, reaches its peak on the night of 17-18 November, but rates are expected to be low this year with a peak of only 10-15 an hour under optimum conditions. You won’t see any until late in the evening as the radiant only rises at around 22.30 local time. These fast-moving meteors are better viewed during the hour after midnight.
Note: The sky will appear much the same from other cities at similar latitudes, such as New York, Paris and Berlin, at around 10pm local time. The sky appears the same at the start of the month an hour later and at the end of the month an hour earlier. We use Virtual Sky, a new, customizable, browser-based planetarium, courtesy of Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network. Click on the date or location to the top left of the chart to view the sky at a different time or from another longitude and latitude. If you want to check out the sky as seen from the southern hemisphere, click here.