The trio of meteor showers will surely grab the attention of most sky gazers. But if you’re into looking at the movement of celestial objects, November has quite the show ready for you.
November is packed full of astonishing celestial events. In addition to the three meteor showers, we will also see two of the brightest planets visible in the entire sky. Starting on November 2, Venus will appear, and it should look amazing.
The planet will appear bright and large next to the much more distant star, Spica. Early risers looking towards the eastern sky about an hour before local sunrise can catch sight of two very bright white stars huddled together close to the horizon. The brighter spot is the planet, Venus, sitting just 13 light-minutes from Earth. The stellar companion is the 250-light-year-away star Spica. It’s important to remember that Venus appears so bright because of its relative proximity to Earth and the highly reflective clouds that enshroud the entire planet.
Then mark the calendar for November 4th and 5th. The South Taurid Meteor Shower is sure to be awe-inspiring. The Taurid meteor showers are divided into two distinct streams that do not have well-defined peak activity times. And they actually overlap across the entire month of November. Though each shower has only five to seven shooting stars visible per hour around the peak dates, these showers are known to produce very bright fireballs, so patient sky-watchers can get a big surprise and see the meteor of a lifetime.
The North Taurid Meteor Shower will then begin on November 12. In the early morning hours starting after midnight local time, look for the second stream of meteors radiating out from the Taurus constellation. Called the North Taurid Shower, this sky show should send out about a half dozen shooting stars per hour. Remember to be on the lookout for unusually bright meteors or fireballs during this event as well.
Space junkies can also see Venus and Jupiter’s close encounter on November 13. The two brightest planets in the night sky, (Venus and Jupiter), will hang together low in the eastern sky and will be most visible an hour before sunrise.
The third meteor shower will then take place November 16th and 17th. Look up late at night on the 16th and into the early morning hours of the 17th for a flurry of shooting stars during the peak of the annual Leonid meteor shower. With a moonless, dark sky, the best views will be in the early morning hours of the 17th, with as many as 10 to 20 shooting stars an hour visible from the dark countryside.
Individual meteors will appear to originate from the shower’s namesake constellation, Leo, which rises in the east in the predawn hours this time of the year.
November 20th will come with Saturn and the moon close to each other. A thin crescent moon will rise above and to the right of the ringed planet. Right after sunset, the razor-thin crescent moon will be hanging above the planet Saturn. Look low in the south-western sky soon after sunset, using binoculars to scan the area to the upper right of Saturn to spot the moon.
On November 29, just before your local dawn, look for the orange-hued Mars to make a stunning pair with the distinctly bluish-tinged star Spica high in the southeastern sky. Meanwhile, Jupiter will be hanging below the pair, and yellow-colored star Arcturus will be perched above and to the left of them.
So if you’re into all things space, and enjoy watching the skies, November will be a great time to see some celestial wonders.
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