"The universe is like a safe to which there is a combination, but the combination is locked up in the safe."
- Peter de Vries

Comet Holmes and the California Nebula (D. Dockery) 

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Highlights for November, 2017

The Moon and Planets:

The Moon. November opens with the Moon in its waxing gibbous phase. Full Moon occurs on November 3. Third quarter occurs on November 10. Mars and the waning crescent Moon pair up on the mornings of November 14-15. Venus and a razor-thin crescent Moon pair up on November 17. New Moon occurs on November 18. On November 20, the Moon is near Saturn with a difficult-to-see Mercury a bit below the pair. First Quarter occurs on November 26.



Mercury is lost in the Sun's glare during most of November. It begins to emerge toward the end of the month, but the angle of the ecliptic will be steep which will keep Mercury close to the horizon after sunset.

Venus is about to make a switch from being the morning star to being the evening star. During November it will move closer and closer to the Sun's glare. By the end of the month, it will be a bit difficult to spot in the moring twilight.

Mars rises a couple of hours before dawn. It's currently in the constellation Virgo and appears as a red-orange 'star' low in the East. It's a long way from Earth right now, so won't show any surface detail.

Jupiter moves from Virgo into Libra about mid-month. About the time it moves into Libra, it will begin to emerge from the Sun's glare. Look for it glowing brightly low in the eastern sky just before sunrise.

Saturn (in Ophiuchus) is still in the evening sky, but is rapidly moving toward the glare of the setting Sun. It should remain visible during most of November, but may disappear into the Sun's glare around the end of the month.

Outer Planets. Uranus and Neptune. Uranus (in Pisces) rises a couple of hours before sunset, and will be in a good position for observation. Neptune (in Aquarius) rises a couple of hours before Uranus, and is also in prime viewing position throughout the month.

Pluto Our favorite dwarf planet rises before noon during November, and is low in the west (in Sagittarius) at dusk.

Comets, Asteroids, Eclipses and Meteor Showers:

There are three meteor shower peaks in November. The South Taurids peak on the morning of November 5th; the North Taurids peak a week later (morning of Nov 12). Both are minor meteor showers, but can produce some nice fireballs. The Leonids peaks on the morning of Nov 17. It should produce a moderate outburst of 10-15 per hour. The Moon will be almost New, so will not interfere with the show. Meteors may enter the atmosphere at any time, but are usually best observed a couple of hours before sunrise.

Comet C/2017 O1 ( ASASSN ) is slowly fading after reaching peak brightness (mag 8.3) around October 22. It begins the month in Camelopardalis, but moves into Cepheus about mid-month. Additional information can be obtained here.

Constellations and Deep Space Objects:Cygnus

November is a good time to check out the myriad of deep space objects in the northeast sky. The constellations Cassiopeia, Perseus and Andromeda are home to many fine telescopic targets.

The Double Cluster (in Perseus) is a beautiful example of two open star clusters situated right next to each other. M34 is another beautiful and bright open star cluster in Perseus that's definitely worth checking out.

The Andromeda Galaxy (M31) is visible by naked eye from dark sky locations. It's easily viewed with binoculars or a modest telescope. Close to M31 is the Triangulum Galaxy (M33). It's nearly as large as M31, but much dimmer.

The Pleiades (in Taurus, but close to Perseus) is a brilliant naked-eye open cluster that shows scores of stars when viewed thru binoculars or a modest telescope.

Happy observing!