(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 07:30 and sets at 16:45. By month's end, it rises at 08:20 and sets at 16:00.
2nd am Venus and Spica (Alpha (α) Virginis, mag +1.0).
13th am Venus and Jupiter.
28th pm Mercury and Saturn.
30th am Mars and Spica (Alpha (α) Virginis, mag +1.0).
Mercury is at greatest eastern elongation on the 24th and is visible low in the evening sky towards the end of the month. At month’s end, it sets around 50 minutes after sunset and is mag +0.1.
Venus is a morning object this month. It rises at 05:45 at the start of the month, by month’s end it rises less than an hour before sunrise. It maintains it brightness at mag -3.8 during the month.
Mars is a morning object this month. It rises at around 04:10 and brightens from mag +1.8 to mag +1.7 during the month.
Jupiter becomes a morning object this month and by month’s end, it rises at 05:45 and is mag -1.6.
Saturn is visible this month as an evening object, moving from Ophiuchus to Sagittarius. During the month, it is visible as soon as darkness falls and sets at 17:10 by month’s end. It maintains its brightness at mag +0.5 during the month.
Uranus is visible in the evening sky this month in Pisces. During the month, it is visible as soon as darkness falls and sets at 04:10 by month’s end. It maintains its brightness at mag +5.7 and lies near to Torcularis Septentrionalis (Omicron (ο) Piscium, mag +4.3) during the month.
Neptune is visible in the evening sky this month in Aquarius. During the month, it is visible as soon as darkness falls and sets at 23:45 by month’s end. It maintains its brightness at mag +7.9 and lies near to Lambda (λ) Aquarii, mag +3.7 during the month.
The full moon is on the 4th (05:23). The last quarter moon is on the 10th (20:36) with the new moon on the 18th (11:42). The first quarter moon is on the 26th (17:03).
6th am 95% waning gibbous and Aldebaran (Alpha (α) Tauri, mag +0.9) – between around 02:25 and 03:20.
2nd pm the 97% waxing gibbous lies SW of Uranus at 18:00.
5th pm the 96% waning gibbous lies S of M45 – The Pleiades at 19:00.
12th am the 37% waning crescent lies SE of Regulus (Alpha (α) Leonis, mag +1.4) at 01:00.
15th am the 10% waning crescent lies E of Mars at 05:00.
16th am the 5% waning crescent lies E of Spica (Alpha (α) Virginis, mag +1.0) at 06:00.
17th am the 2% waning crescent lies E of Jupiter and NE of Venus at 07:00.
20th pm the 5% waxing crescent lies W of Saturn at 17:00.
27th pm the 60% waxing gibbous lies E of Neptune at 17:00.
30th pm the 88% waxing gibbous lies S of Uranus at 17:00.
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 rises at midnight and as new moon is the 18th, conditions are perfect for observing the shower this year. They are typical quick meteors (44 m/s) and can be bright leaving persistent trains.
There may be additional minor showers this month, details of which can be found in the below Information Sources and Links Section.
Asteroid (44) Nysa is at opposition on the morning of the 3rd in Cetus. It is mag +9.6 and visible from 19:00 on the evening of the 2nd.
Finder charts and further information about other fainter asteroids can be found in the below Information Sources and Links Section.
Comet C/2017 O1 (ASAS-SN) is currently mag +8 and expected to fade. It is circumpolar during the month. It will start the month in Camelopardalis, before moving into Ursa Minor. It passes to the W of the current pole star – Polaris (Alpha (α) Ursa Minoris, mag +2.0) at the end of the 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.