Night Sky for November 2011

Sun: The elevation of the Sun continues to increase, reaching 69 degrees by mid month. There is a partial solar eclipse on the 25th but Taranaki lies near the boundary of its path and we only see the first few minutes of it.

The eclipse begins at 8.16pm, close to sunset. Do not look directly at the Sun as permanent blindness can result.

Moon: First Quarter occurs on the 3rd with Full Moon falling on the 11th. Last Quarter is on the 19th and New Moon follows on the 25th.

Meteors: The Leonid Shower peaks on the 18th. Bright moonlight is likely to interfere with viewing.


Mercury rises higher in the western sky for the first half of the month. It will be easy to find as it appears close to the much brighter Venus.

After the 14th, Mercury moves back towards the Sun and will be difficult to see by the 30th.

Venus sets around 10.15pm. It is unmistakable, outshining all night sky objects, other than the Moon. On the 10th, Venus and Mercury appear close to the Moon and the red star, Antares.

Mars appears as an orange-red star, rising about 2.30am. It is in the constellation of Leo and nearby the bright star, Regulus.

Jupiter remains well placed in the northern evening sky.

A small pair of binoculars will easily show its four main moons.

On the 9th, the planet and the nearly Full Moon will be a few degrees away from each other.

Saturn should be visible in the eastern dawn sky by late November.

Stars and Constellations:

The November evening sky appears somewhat barren overhead.

In the west, Scorpius and Sagittarius are setting, while, directly opposite, the summer constellation of Orion is emerging.

The bright star just above the horizon is Sirius. A little distance away is Canopus.

The Southern Cross is due south, barely visible. Above it are the Magellanic Clouds.

Dominating the northern sky is the Great Square of Pegasus, the Winged Horse. Below it is the spiral galaxy of M31 in Andromeda.

* Prepared for The Taranaki Daily News by Tom Whelan, Cape Egmont Observatory.

Taranaki Daily News