November 2021

Welcome to SkyEye, your guide to this month's celestial events.

The Calendar

The Moon eclipses Venus on the eighth and then is itself eclipsed later in the month. Both the Leonids and the α Monocerotids suffer from moonlit skies.

The phases of the Moon in November 2021

Date Body Event
3 Moon, Mercury occultation of Mercury — visible from the islands north of North America
4 Moon new
5 Uranus opposition
Moon perigee
6 Moon descending node
7 Venus maxiumum declination south
8 Moon, Venus occultation of Venus — visible from northeastern Asia
10 Mercury, Mars conjunction: 1.0° apart
11 Moon first quarter
15 Jupiter east quadrature
17 Earth Leonid meteor shower
18 Moon, Uranus 1.3° apart
19 Earth, Moon partial lunar eclipse
Moon full
Moon ascending node
21 Earth α Monocerotid meteor shower
Moon apogee
22 Mercury descending node
27 Moon last quarter
1 Ceres opposition
28 4 Vesta conjunction
29 Mercury superior conjunction

The Solar System

The word planet is derived from the Greek word for 'wanderer'. Unlike the background stars, planets seem to move around the sky, keeping mostly to a narrow track called the ecliptic, the path of the Sun across the stars. Dwarf planets and small solar-system bodies, including comets, are not so constrained, often moving far above or below the ecliptic.

The position of the Sun and planets at mid-month

Sun LibraScorpiusOphiuchus

Although Ophiuchus is not a member of the zodiac, the ecliptic passes through it.

Mercury VirgoLibraScorpiusOphiuchus

The waning crescent Moon occults Mercury on 3 November in an event beginning around 18:15 UT and visible from the islands north of the North American continent. One week later, Mercury and Mars are a degree apart in the dawn sky. Visible in the east before sunrise, Mercury continues to lose altitude throughout the month, vanishing in the brightening sky before superior conjunction on the penultimate day of the month.

Venus OphiuchusSagittarius

The waxing crescent Moon occults Venus on 8 November. Visible from northeastern Asia, this event begins around 04:30 UT. The evening star is best viewed from southern latitudes. Although it has started to descend toward the western horizon, Venus is still very high in the sky after sunset. Conversely, the bright planet is actually gaining a little altitude as seen from the northern hemisphere but it is still very close to the horizon. When viewed through a telescope, Venus appears as a waning crescent. Its illuminated portion reduces from 48% to 29% over the course of the month but the planet actually brightens from −4.4 to −4.7 magnitude as it draws nearer to Earth and inferior conjunction early next year.

Earth and Moon

The Moon occults both inferior planets this month although the Mercury occultation will be difficult to spot. Both the Leonid and α Monocerotid meteor showers are washed out by bright moonlight. Even the partial lunar eclipse on 19 November does not help with meteor shower observations.

Mars VirgoLibra

The Sun has left Mars trailing in its wake; the red planet now rises after the sky begins to brighten in the morning. The New Moon passes 2.3° north of Mars on the fourth day of the month but this event is unlikely to be visible. Planet chasers have a better chance of seeing Mars and Mercury a degree apart on 10 November; Mercury is the brighter of the two.

Jupiter Capricornus

Jupiter reaches east quadrature on 15 November. Look for it early in the evening as it sets before midnight.

Saturn Capricornus

The ringed planet is already above the horizon when night falls and sets mid-evening. Look toward the west for the first-magnitude object.

Uranus Aries

Uranus is at opposition on 5 November. With the Moon absent from the sky, this is an excellent time to view the faint ice giant. It shines its brightest at magnitude +5.7 and a telescope reveals a green-coloured orb 3.7 arc-seconds in diameter. Uranus is visible all night, with the waxing gibbous Moon gliding past on 18 November.

Neptune Aquarius

A small telescope is necessary to view the most distant planet in the solar system. Neptune is primarily an evening sky object this month. Observers in the northern hemisphere have the best views with the faint object not setting until after midnight.

The Celestial Sphere

Constellations are patterns of stars in the sky. The International Astronomical Union recognises 88 different constellations. The brightest stars as seen from the Earth are easy to spot but do you know their proper names? With a set of binoculars you can look for fainter objects such as nebulae and galaxies and star clusters or some of the closest stars to the Sun.

Descriptions of the sky for observers in both the northern and southern hemispheres are available for the following times this month. Subtract one hour from your local time if summer (daylight savings) time is in effect.

Local Time Mid-month Northern Hemisphere Equator Southern Hemisphere
1730 hours (1830 hours summer time) 60° N 50° N 40° N 30° N 20° N 10° N 10° S 20° S 30° S 40° S
1930 hours (2030 hours summer time) 60° N 50° N 40° N 30° N 20° N 10° N 10° S 20° S 30° S 40° S
2130 hours (2230 hours summer time) 60° N 50° N 40° N 30° N 20° N 10° N 10° S 20° S 30° S 40° S
2330 hours (0030 hours summer time) 60° N 50° N 40° N 30° N 20° N 10° N 10° S 20° S 30° S 40° S
0130 hours (0230 hours summer time) 60° N 50° N 40° N 30° N 20° N 10° N 10° S 20° S 30° S 40° S
0330 hours (0430 hours summer time) 60° N 50° N 40° N 30° N 20° N 10° N 10° S 20° S 30° S 40° S
0530 hours (0630 hours summer time) 60° N 50° N 40° N 30° N 20° N 10° N 10° S 20° S 30° S 40° S