November Skies

Evening Planets:

Jupiter and Saturn are up in the SW as evening darkness falls. The planets are not up that high at Dusk and rather low to the horizon. Jupiter is to the right of Saturn. Both planets set about 3 hours after Sunset. As the month progresses, Jupiter dims down a bit and very slowly moves toward Saturn. The two planets will have a conjunction in December, 2020.

Mars is up in the East as evening twilight fades. The fine evening showing of Mars is over and Mars is starting to fade in brightness as it moves away from Earth. The change in brightness for Mars should be quite noticeable as the month progresses. However, some good telescopic views of Mars can still be made when Mars is at its highest evening position around 10 pm.

Morning Planets:

Venus rises in the ESE before Dawn breaks. The planet loses some of its brightness as the month progresses. The planet is also slowly losing altitude as the month progresses. The planet’s favorable morning showing is coming to an end and some changes will be happening to Venus before the end of the year.

Mercury rises about 2 hours after Venus in the ESE in the Dawn’s light. The planet is positioned well towards Venus lower left. Surprisingly, the planet manages to gain some brightness as the month progresses. Despite its low position in the sky; the Planet Mercury manages to stay visible all month long.

2 Nov Waning Gibbous Moon near bright star Aldebaran, Evening

11-12 Nov Northern Taurids Minor Meteor Shower

13 Nov Thin Crescent Moon, Venus, Mercury, and bright star Spica form a rough parallelogram, Dawn

16-17 Nov Leonids Meteor Shower

18 Nov Crescent Moon lower right of Jupiter, Dusk

19 Nov Crescent Moon lower left of Saturn, Dusk

25 Nov Gibbous Moon under Mars, Evening

30 Nov Penumbral Lunar Eclipse, Pre – Dawn

November’s Meteor Showers:

This November offers us 3 meteors showers; two of the showers are fair and one shower is a “washout”.

The first meteor shower is a minor, weak meteor shower called the Northern Taurids. This minor shower will happen on the night of 11-12 November. This meteor shower is basically Moon free except at Dawn when a tiny lunar crescent will be visible. Consider yourself lucky if you can see 7 meteors per hour. The Northern Taurids are known to occasionally produce a few slow bright fireballs.

The second meteor shower is the Leonids Meteor Shower which will happen on the night of 16 -17 November. The weak Leonids are basically Moon free except for a tiny lunar crescent in the early evening sky. About 10 meteors per hour are predicted in the Pre – Dawn skies. The Leonids are known to produce short, very fast whitish meteors.

The Southern Taurids minor meteor shower are the “washout” meteor shower. This shower happens on the Night of 29 -30 November; which is just before the Full Moon. So, the bright Moon washes out or ruins this minor meteor shower.

November Penumbral Lunar Eclipse:

The early morning hours of Monday, 30 November, a Penumbral Lunar Eclipse will happen. A Penumbral Lunar Eclipse is when the Earth’s Penumbra or lighter shade shadow covers the Moon. Most of the Moon will be covered by this light shadow. The light shadow will cover all of the Moon except the for the bottom or Southern Part of the Moon.

Time Table of the Penumbral Lunar Eclipse; Morning of 30 November 2020

02:32 am EST     Start of Eclipse

04:42 am EST     Mid Eclipse, Moon Coverage of 83%

06:53 am EST     End of Eclipse

The best time to see the light grey shading of the Penumbra on the Moon with the unaided eye would be around mid – eclipse. Binoculars will enhance the view of the eclipse. Next year on 19 Nov 2021, we will have a real Total Lunar Eclipse in our area.

Gary T. Nowak

Vermont Astronomical Society