Looking for the November 2023 stargazing calendar?
November will be slightly less eventful than the last month in terms of stargazing events, but there will still be some highlights such as a total lunar eclipse, the perigee of Mars, the Leonids and a few smaller meteor showers. A new addition to these calendars will also include the best times to observe major asteroids and comets. So without further ado, here are this months events:
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To start the month off, on November 8, there will be a total lunar eclipse between 09:10 and 12:49 UTC. This happens when the Moon passes completely through the Earth’s dark shadow, also known as umbra. This lunar eclipse will be visible anywhere the Moon happens to be above the horizon at that time. First the Moon will get darker gradually and then it will shift to a rusty red or blood red color.
The next day, on November 9, the planet Uranus will reach opposition. This means it will reach a point opposite to the Sun, which is the highest point in the night sky. At the same time, Uranus will be at the closest approach to the Earth which makes it the best time to observe. A decent pair of binoculars should be enough.
Then on November 12, the Northern Taurid meteor shower will peak with an average of 5 meteors per hour under ideal conditions. However some meteors will also be visible from October 20 to December 10. Meteors will appear to radiate from the constellation of Taurus.
On the same day of November 12, the asteroid 27 Euterpe will be at opposition. Look for the asteroid in the highest point in the sky at around midnight local time in the constellation of Aries. Despite coming as close as 1.027 AU of the Earth and reaching a peak brightness of magnitude 8.8, the asteroid will not be visible to the naked eye. You will need strong binoculars or a small telescope. 27 Euterpe is a stony asteroid of about 100 km in diameter. It was named after Euterpe, the Greek Muse of music.
On November 14, NASA is planning to launch Artemis 1. This launch of the SLS rocket and the Orion spacecraft was originally scheduled for September, but had to be rescheduled due to engine cooling issues. Hopefully they had enough time to fix the issue and are now back on track for the Moon mission. It will be an unmanned mission to orbit the Moon, the first in a series of missions leading to a return of astronauts to the Moon. If you can attend the launch then this would technically count as stargazing, otherwise you’d have to watch on the news like the rest of us.
Later in the month, on November 17, the Leonid meteor shower will peak with 15 meteors per hour on average if conditions are ideal. Some meteors will also be visible between November 6 to November 30. They will appear to radiate from the constellation of Leo. The Leonids originate from debris left behind by the comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle.
Then on November 19, the asteroid 115 Thyra will be at opposition. At around midnight local time, look in the highest point in the sky in the constellation of Perseus with a small telescope. 115 Thyra will pass within 0.974 AU of the Earth and will have a peak brightness of magnitude 9.7. It is a slightly elongated S-type asteroid of around 80 km in diameter. It was named after Queen Thyra, the wife of King Gorm the Old of Denmark.
On November 21, the α-Monocerotid meteor shower will peak. It is a very small meteor shower and you’re unlikely to see anything at all, so I don’t recommend. I’m only mentioning it here in the interest of thoroughness.
Then on November 22, the asteroid 324 Bamberga will be at opposition. This asteroid of 230 km in diameter is the tenth-brightest main-belt asteroid and can be seen with binoculars. At around midnight local time, look in the highest point in the sky in the constellation of Perseus. This asteroid will pass within 0.972 AU of the Earth, reaching a peak brightness of magnitude 9.1. It was named after the city of Bamberg in Germany.
Later on November 24, the comet 118P/Shoemaker-Levy will reach perihelion. This means it will be at its closest approach to the Sun, at a distance of 1.83 AU. Look at the constellation of Cancer with a larger telescope.
On November 28, the November Orionid meteor shower will peak with 3 meteors per hour on average assuming ideal conditions. Some meteors will also be visible between November 13 to December 6. They will appear to radiate from the constellation of Orion.
On November 29, the asteroid 30 Urania will be at opposition. At around midnight local time, look in the highest point in the sky in the constellation of Taurus with a telescope. This asteroid will pass within 1.115 AU of the Earth, reaching a peak brightness of magnitude 9.6. 30 Urania is a stony S-type asteroid of around 100 km in diameter. It was named after Urania, the Greek Muse of astronomy.
And finally, on November 30, Mars will reach perigee. This means Mars will be closest to us at 0.54 AU in distance. The maximum angular diameter will be 17.2 arcsec and the maximum brightness will reach magnitude -1.8. This makes it the best time to watch the Red Planet. Look in the constellation of Taurus.
As you know, the Moon has a big impact on the visibility of celestial bodies in the night sky. So here are the Moon’s phases for this month:
Positions of the planets this month
Mercury: The closest planet to the Sun can be seen at dawn and dusk travelling across the constellation of Virgo. This planet, being the closest to the Sun, will appear to move quickly in the night sky and its position will change in the following weeks.
Venus: The sister planet can be seen near Mercury travelling across the constellation of Libra. Just like Mercury, Venus can only be seen at dawn and dusk.
Mars: The red planet can be seen in the constellation of Taurus.
Jupiter: The gas giant is visible in the constellation of Pisces. Jupiter can easily be spotted with the naked eye, even in highly illuminated cities.
Saturn: The ringed giant can be seen with the naked eye in the constellation of Capricornus.
Uranus: The gas giant can be seen in the constellation of Aries with the use of a telescope.
Neptune: The blue giant requires a telescope pointed in the constellation of Aquarius in order to be seen.
Major astronomical events next month
- December 2 – Pheonicid meteor shower peak.
- December 6 – December φ-Cassiopeid meteor shower peak.
- December 7 – Puppid-Velid meteor shower peak.
- December 8 – Mars at opposition.
- December 9 – Monocerotid meteor shower peak.
- December 12 – σ-Hydrid meteor shower peak.
- December 14 – Geminid meteor shower peak.
- December 16 – Comae Berenicid meteor shower peak.
- December 20 – December Leonis Minorid meteor shower peak.
- December 21 – December solstice.
- December 22 – Ursid meteor shower peak.
And there you have it! Which of the astronomical events are you looking forward to the most? The total lunar eclipse, the oppositions of Uranus and many asteroids, the meteor showers, the perigee of Mars? Let us know in the comments below.
- Planetary ephemerides produced by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)
- International Meteor Organization
- Previous month’s calendar: Stargazing Calendar for October 2022
- Next month’s calendar: Stargazing Calendar for December 2022