Astro Bob: Total lunar eclipse highlights November sky events
Temperatures may plummet in November, but the heavens are heating up! Check out the latest night-sky calendar.
Jupiter dominates the sky this month. To see it just face southeast as soon as it gets dark. The planet looks like a brilliant, pale-yellow star. A steadily-held pair of 7x or 10x binoculars will reveal at least a couple of its brightest moons nestled within the planet’s glare. Be sure to focus sharply. Use the roof of your car or a rung on a ladder to hold the binoculars calm and steady.
The big event this month is the total lunar eclipse that occurs during the early morning of Nov. 8, the same day as the election. Bundle up! For U.S. and Canadian observers, it happens during the early morning hours. You don’t need any equipment to watch the eclipse, but a pair of binoculars will enhance the view especially during totality when the moon hangs like a ripe peach among the stars.
Lunar eclipses last several hours, so take your time. As more and more of the moon slips into Earth’s shadow, the sky darkens and the stars return. The change of light feels magical. Our next total lunar eclipse will occur on March 14, 2025 – a long way off.
*Note: When “a.m.” follows the date, it refers to an event primarily visible in the morning sky after midnight. All times are Central Daylight Time until Nov. 6, when we return to Standard Time.
November night-sky calendar
Nov. 1 – First quarter moon passes below the planet Saturn
Nov. 1-12 – Peak of the Northern and Southern Taurid meteor showers. While only a handful of meteors per hour will be visible from most locations, fireballs are common. The meteors shoot from the direction of the bright, dipper-shaped star cluster the Pleiades, a.k.a. the Seven Sisters. Best viewing will be from 9 p.m. till 2 a.m. Face east or south. Moonlight interferes early in the month.
Nov. 4 – Waxing gibbous moon shines below Jupiter. Bright and eye-catching sight!
Nov. 6 – Daylight Saving Time ends
Nov. 8 a.m. – Full Beaver Moon. Total eclipse! Times are CST, and the moon will shine in the western sky:
- 2:45 a.m. − First hint of shading along the moon’s upper left edge as it enters Earth’s outer shadow, called the penumbra
- 3:09 a.m. – Partial eclipse begins as the moon enters Earth’s dark, inner shadow (umbra)
- 4:16 a.m. – Total eclipse begins
- 4:59 a.m. – Mid-eclipse
- 5:42 a.m. – Total eclipse ends
- 6:49 a.m. – Partial eclipse ends
- 7:15 a.m. – Last hint of shading along the moon’s lower right edge
If you just want to catch the juiciest part, look between 3:45 – 4:30 a.m. CST. I’ll post more details about the eclipse next week.
Nov. 10 – Waning gibbous moon appears to the west of Mars, which now shines with a brilliance equal to Sirius, the brightest star.
Nov. 16 – Last quarter moon
Nov. 18 a.m. – Peak of the annual Leonid meteor shower with around 10 meteors per hour visible between 1 a.m. and dawn local time from a dark location. Face east or south. Meteors stream from the constellation Leo, midway up in the southeastern sky around 3 a.m. A thick, waning crescent moon will reduce meteor counts a bit.
Nov. 23 – New moon
Nov. 28 – Waxing crescent moon shines below Saturn
Nov. 30 – First quarter moon