Five Fabulous November Planets
Five spectacular planets will adorn the night skies in November. The planets Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter will charm evening stargazers. For you early birds, Venus and Mercury dance the tango in the morning sky.
Let's begin with the first week in November. Look low in the east 45 minutes before sunrise (about 6:00a.m.) and locate the bright planet Venus. Venus has dominated this region in the morning sky for the past two months. Swift-moving Mercury will seem to leap out of the dawn sky and greet radiant Venus. These two planets will travel together down toward the horizon and will remain less than one degree away from each other from October 27 through November 7th.
Usually when you see two planets meet, such as Venus and Mercury in early November, one of the planets is much closer to earth. That planet is generally traveling faster than the other one and so their close meetings only last for a day or two. Venus and Mercury's orbits are now positioned in such a way that both planets appear to be moving at nearly the same speed. Even though Venus is 50 million miles farther away from us than Mercury, they are on the same line of sight. As a result, both planets will appear less than a degree from each other. Remember that 1-degree looks like 2 full moons lined up side by side.
The remaining three planets in November can be seen in the evening night sky. Mars is high in the south just after sunset. Mars has faded since the first day of summer when it was shining 8x brighter than it is now. But the Red Planet was 58 million miles closer to us back then.
Saturn and Jupiter are located in the east after 10:00. Saturn will look simply sensational throughout the month of November. The size of the planet and the tilt of its rings are almost at maximum, so it's a great time to set up the telescope. At the same time use the telescope to enjoy observing Jupiter's four biggest moons as they play ring around the planet.
Five spectacular planets are gracing the night skies of November. Whether you look in the morning or in the evening, there will be a few of them reflecting their light upon this fragile planet we call home.