November 2013 Sky Watching


This Month

Most of the United States sets their clocks back one hour to standard time this month.  The length of daylight decreases by about one hour during the month, ending with about 9 hours, 20 minutes of daylight in the Chicago area at month’s end.  The noon sun appears 7 degrees lower during the month.  As the sun appears to move farther south, it is in the sky for a shorter duration making it difficult to save daylight or shift time as when the sun is in the sky during the warmer months.

There is a hybrid solar eclipse on November 3, but it is not visible from the Chicago area.  The eclipse is a rare combination of a ring (annular) eclipse and total eclipse that is visible from the Atlantic Ocean and central regions of Africa.  Observers from parts of South America, Africa, Europe and the Middle East see a partial eclipse.

Moon Phases

New Moon — November 3
First Quarter — November 9
Full Moon — November 17
Last Quarter — November 25

Evening Sky

Venus is the bright starlike object visible in the southwestern sky during early evening hours.


On November 1, Venus reaches its greatest angular separation (47 degrees) from the sun.  The planet continues to rapidly move closer to our planet this month.  It sets about 2 hours, 20 minutes after the sun on November 1 lengthening to about 3 hours at month’s end.  Read more about Venus as an Evening Star.

On the evening of November 6, the waning crescent moon appears 7 degrees to the upper right of the moon as the planet is in front of the dimmer stars of Sagittarius.

Morning Sky

Mars and Jupiter appear in the southeastern sky before sunrise early in the month.  Mars is near Regulus in Leo and  bright Jupiter is nearly 50 degrees to Mars’ upper right, among the stars of Gemini with Castor and Pollux nearby.

On the moon’s monthly trek through the sky, it passes Jupiter on the morning of November 22,  Look high in the southern skies around 5 a.m. CST.

Meanwhile, Mercury and Saturn enter the morning sky this month.  Mercury appears for a few weeks then again moves back into the bright glare of the sun in December.  Late in the month, Mercury appears near Saturn and the star Zubenelgenubi.  Here are the events:

November 24:  Mercury, Saturn and Zubenelgenbui make nearly an equilateral triangle with Saturn 2 degrees to the lower left of Mercury and Zubenelgenubi 1.5 degrees to the lower right.

November 25:  Saturn is less than one degree (two full moon diameters) to the lower left of Mercury and Zubenelgenubi less than 2 degrees to the lower right of Mercury.

November 26:  This morning, Mercury appears less than one degree below Saturn with Zubenelgenubi about 2 degrees to the right of Saturn.  Mercury’s rapid motion carries it past Saturn.

The next morning, the moon appears near Mars and Leo’s tail, the star Denebola.

The Solar System

The chart above shows the positions of the planets on November 15, 2013 as viewed from above the solar system at a distance of about 85 times the earth to sun distance.  (Click the image to see it larger.)  The line from the earth to the sun that extends beyond marks the time of noon and midnight.  Venus is the only planet visible in the evening sky while, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are morning planets.  Saturn is largely in the sky during the daytime as it appears near the noon mark,  It is visible in the morning sky before sunrise this month.

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