Night Sky - November 2020

12th: Northern Taurid meteor shower (figures 1, 2, 3, 4), 20th November through to 10th December, maximum meteors on 11th/12th November. Radiant point in constellation Taurus. Meteor shower visible during darkness.
Main activity approximately 01:00 GMT. Taurids are from comet Encke, which orbits the Sun every 3.3 years (short term periodic comet). First seen in 1786 by Pierre Mechain and identified in 1800’s as a periodic comet by Johann Franz Encke.

Figure 1: Viewing South East on November 11th/12th.

Figure 2: Northern Taurids Radiant and Star Chart (credit: free star charts).

Figure 3: Constellation Taurus.

Figure 4: Taurid meteors emanating from radiant point.

12th: Moon and Venus in conjunction (figure 5). They will make a close approach (appulse). Can be viewed in the dawn sky, approximately 04:20 GMT. They will be in the Virgo constellation. Improved viewing with a pair of binoculars.

Figure 5: Close approach (appulse) of Moon and Venus.

17th: Leonid meteors (figure 6, 7), between 6th and 30th, with peaks on 17th/18th. Visible from approximately 22:30 every night in the East, until approximately 07:00. Possibility of seeing 10 to 20 meteors per hour. Parent body, comet Tempel Tuttle.

Figure 6: Leonid meteor shower.

Figure 7: Leonid’s in constellation Leo.

Comet Tempel Tuttle, observed in 1699 by Gottfried Kirch, but independently identified as a periodic comet by Wilhelm Tempel on December 19th, 1865, and Horace Parnell Tuttle on January 6th, 1866.

19th: Conjunction of Moon and Jupiter (figure 8, 9) in constellation Sagittarius. Will be visible approximately 15:45 when dusk sky fades. Visible to the unaided eye, with improved viewing through binoculars.

Figure 8.

Figure 9: Constellation Sagittarius.

19th: Conjunction of Moon and Saturn in Sagittarius (figure 10). Visible from approximately 16:00, towards Southern horizon.

Figure 10: Conjunction of Moon and Saturn. Saturn is below and right of the moon.

21st: α (alpha) Monocerotid meteor shower (figure 11, 12) active between 15th and 25th with peak approximately 21st. Visible in constellation, Canis Minor. Active between 21:45 and 07:00.

Figure 11.

Figure 12: Canis Minor constellation.

25th: Conjunction of Moon and Mars (figure 13, 14). Visible, 15:40 until 02:30, moving from East to West. Moon will be in constellation Cetus and Mars in Pisces. Moon will be 401783 km from Earth, Mars will be 90.4 million km from Earth.

Figure 13.

Figure 14: Mars, bright dot to right of Moon.

28th: Peak of November Orionid meteors (figure 15, 16), in constellation Orion. Active from 13th November to 6th December. Visible between 18:20 and 07:15 each night.

Figure 15.

Figure 16.

WARNING: Never attempt to view through binoculars, telescope or any optical aid an object near to the Sun. Also, never attempt to view the Sun, aided or unaided, doing so may result in immediate and permanent blindness. Always use astronomical approved viewing equipment.

The Stellarium software will assist greatly in locating objects in the sky.

Mark R Smith FRAS FRi
Nuclear Fusion Physics Astrophysics