What We’re Watching: November 2021
In the spirit of gratitude that the month of Thanksgiving is all about, I challenge you to grab your telescope or binoculars, go to your favorite viewing location, and be reminded of the mind-blowing beauty of our universe. How could we not be grateful for that?! November holds lots of opportunities for excellent skygazing views, so this should be easy!
November 4: New Moon
The moon will not be visible in the night sky tonight. This means the sky will be dark and it will be the best time for viewing those faint, faraway galaxies that you can’t get a great look at on more illuminated nights.
You can also expect to be able to get a great view of Venus in the early evening, as well as Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus later that night.
November 4-5: Taurids Meteor Shower
This smaller meteor shower will peak at an optimal time due to the New Moon! The Taurids are expected to produce only 5-10 meteors per hour, but they’re unique in that they consist of two separate streams. The first is produced by dust grains left behind by Asteroid 2004 TG10. The second is produced by debris left behind by Comet 2p Encke.
Taurids meteors will radiate from the constellation Taurus, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
November 5: Uranus at Opposition
In astronomy, opposition simply means that a planet forms a straight line with the earth and the sun, with the earth in the center. The point of opposition is typically the best time for viewing planets because they will be most brightly illuminated. Uranus will be at its closest point to earth, though it is still an extremely distant planet. You’ll need a powerful telescope for it to appear as anything more than a tiny blue-green dot!
November 17-18: Leonids Meteor Shower
The pace will pick up slightly with this meteor shower. The Leonids are expected to produce approximately 15 fast-moving, bright meteors per hour at its peak on the late night of the 17th/early morning of the 18th. The nearly full moon will block out the less bright meteors, so for the best views, go to a dark location after midnight.
This is a cyclical shower that produces hundreds of meteors per hour at its peak once every 33 years. The last occurrence of this massive shower was in 2001.
Leonids are produced by grains left by the comet Tempel-Tuttle. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Leo, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
November 19: Full Moon
The moon will be fully illuminated on the night of November 19th. Moonlight will shine brightly over the earth, making for a beautiful view of the moon, but not a great time for viewing fainter objects that will be obscured in the light.
This full moon was known by the Native American tribes as the Beaver Moon, because it was the time of year to set their beaver traps before the lakes froze over.
November 19: Partial Lunar Eclipse
This partial lunar eclipse will occur because of the moon only passing partly through the earth’s darkest shadow. All but about 2.6% of the moon’s diameter will be immersed in the earth’s shadow as it passes through. The remaining exposed portion of the moon will be cast with a yellowy-silver glow (known as the “Japanese Lantern Effect”).
The partial lunar eclipse will be visible to North America in the early hours of the morning between 2:00 - 5:45am EST. It will be a beautiful sight with the naked eye, through a pair of binoculars, or a telescope.
Let us know what you’re most looking forward to this month! We love hearing from you, and will read every comment.