SKY REPORTER: November 2012


Sky Data

Early on the morning of Thursday November first, Neptune set at 1:44 a.m. Venus rose at 4:29 a.m. and Uranus set at 4:40 a.m. Saturn appeared above the eastern horizon at 6:52 and sunrise was at 7:27 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time.

That evening the Sun, located in the constellation Libra, set at 5:51. Mercury set during dusk at 6:45, the rise time of Jupiter was 7:40 p.m., the Solar System’s largest planet was followed above the eastern horizon six minutes later by the bright waning gibbous Moon, and Mars set at 7:53

Thursday November 15 sunrise is at 6:43 Eastern Standard Time and sunset occurs that day at 4:37 p.m.

The last day of November, Uranus sets at 1:43 a.m., Saturn rises at 4:15. Venus rises at 4:35a.m., followed by Mercury at 5:17 a.m. The Sun is in Ophiuchus and rises at 7:00 a.m.

That evening, sunset occurs at 4:29 p.m. Fourteen minutes later Jupiter rises during bright evening twilight at 4:43 p.m. Mars sets at 6:34, followed by Neptune at 10:46 p.m.

During November the duration of daylight decreases from 10 hours 25 minutes to nine hours and 29 minutes. The altitude of the Sun at solar noon descends during November from 35 degrees of arc on the first to 28 degrees on Friday the 30th.

Average overnight temperatures recorded in Central Park during November drop from 46 degrees Fahrenheit on the first to 37 degrees on the last day of the month.

Between daybreak on November first and evening twilight of the 30th, Earth will move about 583,750 miles closer to the Sun. Clearly, cooler temperatures this month are not the result of this variation in Earth-Sun distance. Lower angles of sunlight reaching the northern hemisphere and shorter daily durations of daylight cause our seasonal decrease in temperatures.

Principal Phases of the Moon are:

Last Quarter November 6
New Moon November 13
First Quarter November 20
Full Moon November 28

Sky Cast

Mercury is part of our evening sky during early November then, after its conjunction with the Sun on November 17th, this fast orbiting planet rapidly moves higher into the predawn sky. Venus remains a striking feature in the eastern sky during early morning. Saturn increasingly becomes visible about an hour before dawn as November progresses. Mars is still visible low in the southwest after evening twilight and Jupiter is a bright, dominating presence throughout the nights of November.

Sunday morning November 4th, two a.m. instantaneously became one a.m. as we reverted to Standard Time.

Early on the morning of Veterans Day, Sunday November 11th, the waning crescent Moon marks an apex of a triangle also including brilliant Venus and first magnitude star Spica in the constellation Virgo. This assembly may be viewed above the east-southeast horizon, clear skies permitting, starting at about five a.m.

The early evenings of November 15th and 16th, a thin crescent Moon may be seen adjacent to Mars low in the southwestern sky.

Great Square of Pegasus and neighboring stars, Uranus, The Andromeda Galaxy, and The Moon on Thanksgiving night 2012. Credit: Starry Night Education

Great Square of Pegasus and neighboring stars, Uranus, The Andromeda Galaxy, and The Moon on Thanksgiving night 2012.

Credit: Starry Night Education

During Thanksgiving night, November 22nd, the Moon is directly south of the famous asterism of second magnitude stars known as the Great Square of Pegasus. This stellar pattern is a useful jumping off feature as we “star hop” to adjacent parts of the autumn evening sky. After your dinner, if the sky is clear, look for this Square. If you shield your eyes from bright gibbous moonlight, the asterism will be easier to see. Perhaps you might share the view with your holiday companions.

Around 7:30 on Thanksgiving evening, the edge of the Moon is seven degrees of arc northwest of sixth magnitude Uranus, which is then located along a line extending directly south of stars Alpheratz and Algenib marking the left side of the Great Square. Uranus is the about the same angular distance below Algenib as Algenib is below Alpheratz, 14 degrees of arc (approximately one and a half fist lengths). Alpheratz is 97 light years from us and is actually part of the constellation Andromeda. Algenib’s distance from the Solar System is about 330 light years.

Venus may be sighted less than one degree from Saturn in the predawn sky of Monday November 26th.

Starting at about six p.m. on the night of Wednesday November 28th, look for the Full “Beaver” Moon situated just one degree of arc from Jupiter between the horns of the constellation Taurus. As the night progresses we may also see the first magnitude star Aldebaran, brightest in Taurus, about four degrees from the Moon.

At about six a.m. the morning of Friday November 30th, Saturn, Venus, and Mercury line up low in the southeastern sky. The apparent separation between Saturn and Mercury then will be about 13 degrees of arc.

Sky Lore

During this month the Sun appears to move from the constellation Libra through a small part of Scorpius and by the last day of November is located in Ophiuchus, sometimes referred to as the 13th constellation of the zodiac. Scorpius is a large constellation containing a striking hook shaped asterism that outlines the figure of a scorpion in traditional Western sky mythology. However the ecliptic, the Sun’s apparent path, is only in Scorpius for about one week. The Sun is in Libra from the first of November until the 22nd of the month. It then moves into Scorpius where the Sun remains until the 29th when it crosses the constellation's border into Ophiuchus.