Starry Night: Late November 2012

Posted Wednesday, November 14, 2012 in Features

Starry Night: Late November 2012

Courtesy Ustream

by Tristan Radtke

Mid-November is a busy time for astronomical events, starting with a total Solar eclipse on November 13. This will be the last Solar eclipse until early 2015, but unfortunately for Northern (and most Southern) hemispheric viewers, the event will only be visible in stretches of far northern Australia and the middle of the Pacific and Indian oceans, according to this article at

November 28 will play host to another eclipse, this time a partial lunar eclipse, which will occur during the daylight for American viewers, between about 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. Central time. This eclipse will also not be visible to those living in the eastern third of the United States, as it will occur after the Moon has set.

Finally, to round out a busy month in space, the Leonid meteor shower will reach a peak of 10-15 meteors per hour twice this year, November 17, and again on November 20. By comparison to recent showers, the Leonids will be relatively tame, but they will also be more visible than any of the showers in the past few months, as the Moon will set before the shower. The shower will be centered on Leo, the Lion, which will rise almost directly to the east around 10 p.m. and will be fully up around 1 a.m. almost due east.

**The Stars**

As previously mentioned, some of the constellations that are associated with winter or early spring can be seen now if you're willing to stay up a little late and beat the rush.  The wintry constellations of Taurus, Orion, and the Great and Lesser Dogs, are visible no later than 9 p.m., high in the southern sky.  Gemini, Cancer, and Leo are up around midnight. 

** The Planets **
• Mercury: On November 15, Mercury will be lost to the glare of the sunset, setting around 4 p.m. By the beginning of December, Mercury will have joined Venus and Saturn in the early morning sky, rising at about 5 a.m.

• Venus: On November 15, Venus will rise around 3:45 a.m. On December 1, Venus will rise at about 4:30 a.m.

• Mars: At mid-month, Mars will set at about 6 p.m. By the end of the month, Mars and Pluto will be in close proximity, both setting around 6:15 p.m.

• Jupiter: In mid-November, Jupiter will rise just after twilight, around 5:15 p.m. By December 1, things will not have changed too much, but Jupiter will rise earlier to follow a much earlier sunset at around 4:15 p.m.

• Saturn: Saturn will follow Venus by mid-month in the early morning sky, rising around 4:45 a.m. By the end of the month, Saturn will be the early riser, at around 4 a.m.

• Uranus: Uranus will set around 2 a.m. on November 15. On December 1, it will set at about 1:15 a.m.
• Neptune: On November 15, Neptune will set around 11:30 p.m. On December 1, Neptune will set at 10:30 p.m.

• Pluto: On November 15, Pluto will set around 7 p.m. By the end of the month, Pluto will set around 6:15 p.m.

** The Moon **
On November 1, the Moon will be waning towards third quarter, but nearly full. It will reach third quarter on November 7, and wane to new phase by November 14. It will wax to first quarter by November 21, and will be full on November 28, waning into the early part of December.

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