November 2104 Sky Watching


Welcome to November!  The length of daylight continues to diminish during November.  The northern mid-latitudes lose nearly an hour of daylight during the month.

The blue area on the chart above indicates the length of daylight during November.  (Click the image to see it larger.)  With the switch back to standard time for most of the United States, the inevitable conversation occurs about daylight time and standard time.  A year ago. there was a discussion about changing to two time zones in the United States.  See commentary here.

NASA Photo
Phase Date/Time Moonrise Moonset
Full Moon 11/06/14 (4:23 p.m.) 4:47 p.m. 7:06 a.m. (11/07)
Las Quarter 11/14/14 (9:15 a.m.) 11:46 p.m. 12:58 p.m. (11/15)
New Moon 11/22/14 (6:32 a.m.) 6:44 a.m. 4:56 p.m.
First Quarter 11/29/14 (4:06 a.m.) 12:21 p.m. 12:22 a.m. (11/30)
Times are Central Standard Time for Chicago, Illinois, from US Naval Observatory calculations. (For mjb)

Evening Sky

Mars is the only planet visible in the early evening sky  during the month.


It is in front of the stars of Sagittarius low in the southwestern sky.  It sets about 3 hours after sunset, although it appears near the southwest horizon during early evening.


Late in the month, the crescent moon moves past Mars.  On the evening of November 25, the moon is about 8 degrees to the right of Mars.  On the next evening.  the moon stands about 9.5 degrees above the Mars.


During November Jupiter moves into the evening sky.  Early in November it rises in the east-northeast around midnight.  It is well up in the southeastern sky at sunrise.

It appears about 9.5 degrees to the upper right of Regulus.  Jupiter is now the brightest starlike object in the sky, until Venus reappears in the evening sky at month’s end.  It is slightly brighter than Sirius, the brightest star, that  appears low in the south during November mornings.

Near mid-month, the moon moves through the region; on November 14, the last quarter moon appears near Jupiter and Regulus.  While the chart above shows the trio at 5 a.m., the moon rises just before midnight and can be seen in the eastern sky from moonrise until the sky brightens.  During the daytime with a very clear sky, Jupiter may be visible through binoculars by using the moon as  guide to fine it.


Mercury is the headliner in the morning sky.  It is at its best morning appearance of the year in the eastern morning sky.  The planet always appears near the sun.   During autumn, the solar system’s plane makes a very sharp angle with the horizon.  If Mercury is near its greatest separation with the sun, it appears a little higher in the sky.  The chart above includes a sketch of Mercury’s orbit (in red) showing the planet at the greatest separation it can have from the sun.  On the chart above, the star Spica appears about 4.5 degrees to the lower right of Mercury and will help identify it.  Locate a viewing spot with a  clear horizon.

Venus and Saturn

Venus and Saturn  are not visible this month.  Venus passed superior conjunction late last month and is moving into the evening sky, appearing low in the southwest around month’s end.  See our forecast for the appearance of Venus in the evening sky.  Saturn moves behind the sun (conjunction) on November and reappears in the morning sky later in December.

November provides a few planets for observing.  The view of Mercury early in the month is this year’s best opportunity to see the planet in the morning sky.  Jupiter rise high across the sky with a bright star nearby and the moon appearing with the planet at midmonth.  With more night hours in November sky watching awaits!

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