November 2023

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

The Calendar

Jupiter reaches opposition early in the month. The waxing crescent Moon does not unduly interfere with the Leonid meteor shower in mid-November.

The phases of the Moon in November 2023

Date Body Event
2 Saturn local maximum ring opening: 10.51°
3 Jupiter opposition
Mars 0.3° south of the third-magnitude star α² Librae (Zubenelgenubi)
Moon 1.4° south of the first-magnitude star β Geminorum (Pollux)
4 Saturn stationary in ecliptic longitude: retrograde → direct
Saturn stationary in right ascension: retrograde → direct
5 Saturn 0.8° east of the fourth-magnitude star ι Aquarii
Moon last quarter
6 Moon apogee
Mars descending node
9 Moon, Venus lunar occultation: 1.0° apart (visible from Greenland, Iceland and the Arctic)
11 Moon 2.4° north of the first-magnitude star α Virginis (Spica)
Moon descending node
Mercury aphelion: 0.467 au
13 Moon new
Moon, Mars 2.5° apart
Uranus opposition
14 Moon, Mercury 1.6° apart
Moon lunar occultation: 0.7° north of the first-magnitude star α Scorpii (Antares) (daytime event)
16 Mercury 2.5° north of the first-magnitude star α Scorpii (Antares)
18 Earth Leonid meteor shower
Mars conjunction
20 Moon first quarter
Moon, Saturn 2.7° apart
1 Ceres conjunction
21 Earth α Monocerotid meteor shower
Moon perigee: farthest (369,824 km)
22 Moon, Neptune 1.5° apart
23 Saturn east quadrature
24 Moon ascending node
25 Moon, Jupiter 2.8° apart
26 Moon, Uranus 2.7° apart
27 Moon lunar occultation: 1.1° south of the open star cluster M45 (Pleiades)
Moon full
28 Venus perihelion: 0.718 au
Mars 1.8° north of the second-magnitude star δ Scorpii (Dschubba)
29 Mars 1.2° south of the third-magnitude star β Scorpii (Acrab)
30 Mercury maximum declination south: −25.86°
Mars 0.4° south of the fourth-magnitude star ω¹ Scorpii
Mars 0.3° south of the fourth-magnitude star ω² Scorpii

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 LibraScorpiusOphiuchusSagittarius

The final evening apparition of the year is a poor one for northern observers, with the tiny planet skimming the horizon at sunset. It puts in a much better appearance for those farther south. It is quite bright throughout the month, beginning at magnitude −0.8 and ending at −0.4. The slender crescent Moon passes 1.6° south of the planet on 14 November, and Mercury is found 2.5° north of the first-magnitude star Antares two weeks later.

Venus LeoVirgo

Venus continues to gain altitude in the east as seen from the southern hemisphere but is already descending back toward the horizon for northern viewers. The morning star dims from magnitude −4.3 to −4.2 as the month progresses and appears as a gibbous orb in a telescope. A lunar occultation takes place on 9 November but this is only visible in the very far north. Venus reaches perihelion for the second time this year on 28 November.

Earth and Moon

This is an excellent year to look for Leonids in the sky, with the waxing crescent Moon setting early in the evening. The α Monocerotid meteor shower a few days later is slightly more inconvenienced by the waxing gibbous Moon but is certainly worth a try. Three lunar occultations take place this month: Venus (9 November), first-magnitude star Antares (14 November) and open star cluster M45 (27 November). The Moon also passes close by Pollux on 3 November when the two bodies are 1.4° apart and Spica on 11 November when the Moon is 2.4° north of the bright star. The most distant perigee of the year occurs on 21 November.

Mars LibraScorpius

Mars is lost to view this month, arriving a conjunction with the Sun on 18 November. Interestingly, Mars will actually move behind the disk of the Sun as seen from Earth. Normally, because of the red planet's orbital inclination (just under 2°), Mars passes either north or south of the Sun during conjunction.

Jupiter Aries

Jupiter arrives at opposition on 3 November, shining at magnitude −2.9 and appearing 49.45 arc-seconds wide in a telescope. By far the brightest star-like object in Aries, the planet is visible all night, setting around sunrise. The waxing gibbous Moon passes 2.8° north of the gas giant on 25 November.

Saturn Aquarius

Saturn's rings open to a local maximum value of 10.51° on the second day of the month, after which they begin to close up again. The first-magnitude planet returns to direct motion on 4 November. Later in the month, on 20 November, the First Quarter Moon passes by less than 3° south of Saturn. East quadrature occurs three days later on 23 November. Look for Saturn in the evening as it now sets before midnight.

Uranus Aries

Uranus attains opposition on 13 November, rising at sunset and setting at dawn. This event coincides with New Moon, providing an excellent opportunity to look for this faint object with the naked eye. Shining at magnitude +5.6, a telescope reveals a greenish orb 3.68 arc-seconds in diameter. The waxing gibbous Moon passes 2.7° north of the planet on 26 November.

Neptune PiscesAquarius

A small telescope is necessary to view the most distant planet in the solar system but wait for a moonless night to make the attempt. Visible in the evening sky, Neptune and the waxing gibbous Moon are only 1.5° apart on 22 November.

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