Looking up at the night sky can be awe-inspiring, calming, and breath-taking. For many, stargazing is a peaceful way to spend an evening they’re up at the cottage or on a camping trip. Last month, stargazers got a real treat with the beautiful Halloween harvest moon, but this month is shaping up to be even better. During the month of November, all seven planets will be visible.
All Planets will be Visible
Admittedly, you will need binoculars to see Uranus and Neptune, but the other five- Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Venus, and Mercury will be visible to the naked eye.
If you live in the Northern hemisphere, you will be able to see Mercury in the morning during the first few weeks of November. The planet will reach its greatest morning elongation on November 10, when it will be nineteen degrees west of the sun. It will, however, remain at least eighteen degrees west of the sun from November 5 to the 16th .
**Elongation is the angle between the sun and a planet from the perspective of a person standing on earth. For example, imagine you are standing looking up at the sky. You see the sun, and a little ways to the left you see a bright, glowing planet. Imagine then you draw a triangle connecting you, the sun, and the planet. If you measure the angle of the corner of the triangle where you are standing, that would give you the elongation .
Venus is the brightest planet. It actually reached its greatest elongation from the sun on August 12 of 13, depending on your time zone. Despite this, venus is going to remain bright and visible for the remainder of the year. As for when you can see it, that depends on where you live:
Mid-Northern Latitudes: In early November, Venus will rise three hours before the sun. By the end of the month, however, it will rise about two and a half hours before the sun.
Near the Equator: Venus will rise two hours before the sun at the beginning of the month. By the end of the month, it will rise one hour and fifty minutes before the sun.
Southern Hemisphere: Venus will rise about an hour and a half before the sun throughout the entire month .
By mid-November, Venus will be only about half as bright as it was back in July. That said, it will be shining at a magnitude of -3.9, which is still far brighter than any other planet .
Mars got its time in the spotlight during October, however, it isn’t going away. Last month, it was brighter than it will be again until September 2035. This is because, in mid-October, it reached a point of opposition in the sky. This means it was opposite of the sun according to our point of view on earth.
Because the orbit of the earth is smaller than that of Mars, however, we are now moving away from the planet. For this reason, it will begin to dim in our sky .
Jupiter and Saturn
During the month of November, you will be able to see Jupiter and Saturn as soon as the sun sets. This will continue until the end of the year.
Mid-Northern Latitudes: Jupiter and Saturn will set at mid-evening.
Southern Hemisphere: They will remain out until late at night.
In December 2020, the two planets will experience a Great Conjunction.A conjunction is a meeting of planets and other objects in our sky’s dome. A Great Conjunction specifically refers to a meeting between Saturn and Jupiter. This happens only once every twenty years. This year, however, will be the closest the two planets have come since 1623.
Both of these planets will appear very bright throughout November. They will sink a bit lower in the sky as the sun sets, and will set themselves soon after dark. If you have a telescope, however, you should try to get a look at them while they are higher up in the sky, when you can get a clearer view.
Jupiter is much brighter than Saturn, so look for it first. You can then use it as a reference point to see Saturn.
Uranus and Neptune
Both of these planets will be visible during the evenings this month, however you may have difficulty getting a clear view without help. You will likely be able to see Uranus with a set of binoculars, but Neptune will require a good telescope or long-range binoculars if you want a clear view .
So Many Visible Planets for this Month of Star-Gazing
It is very rare that all the planets will be visible in the same month. For this reason, now is the time to take advantage of this extraordinary celestial event. With many of our regular activities and entertainment put on hold, the planets are stepping in to fill the void.
Happy star gazing!