November Astronomy: This month brings a Total Lunar Eclipse on Election Day, morning and evening sightings of Mars, and more

March lights up in November to become the No. 1 morning “star”. In the evening, Mars rises earlier, joining the other two bright outer planets, and ranks No. 2, after only Jupiter.

Oh, and don’t miss the total lunar eclipse at dawn on Election Day!

Evenings: Bright Jupiter, magnitude -2.8 to -2.6, and Saturn, magnitude +0.6 to +0.8, adorn the sky from east-southeast to south at dusk. Saturn is 41° to 39° west of Jupiter this month. The waxing moon appears near Saturn on November 1 and 28, and near Jupiter three nights later on November 4 and December 1. Use binoculars just before sunset on November 4 and December 1 to try to score a daytime sighting of Jupiter near the moon.

Brightness ranking after Jupiter in early November evening sky is golden arcturus, sinking from west to west-northwest; and blue-white Vega, airy to very high in the west-northwest. Mars eclipses these stars by far, but in early November it rises, far to the north of the east, not until about 2.5 hours after sunset.

A waning gibbous moon closes in on Mars from the evening of November 10 until dawn on November 11. Mars rises a few minutes earlier each evening, and in the last days of November Mars rises before mid-twilight and appears in the evening. dusk card.

On November 1, Saturn is less than 0.7° east-northeast of the 4.3 magnitude star Iota in Capricorn. Saturn ended retrograde on October 22 and began a slow return to Delta Capor Deneb Algedi, the magnitude 2.9 star marking the end of the Sea Goat’s Tail, 5.3° east of Saturn on November 1. Weakest of magnitude 3.7 Gamma heading is 1 3/4° west of Delta. With close attention for several days towards the end of the year, you can detect Saturn’s slow motion relative to these stars.


A star hop to Uranus: This search map of Uranus should be very friendly for observers with binoculars. You can refer to the constellation table on the back of the month of October or December 2022 Sky calendar to locate the bright stars of Aries and the head of Cetus.

Start with the “V” shaped head of Taurus, made up of Aldebaran and the Hyades group. Gamma Tauri is at the point of the “V”. Imagine the “V” as an arrowhead and follow it 22° southwest of Gamma to magnitude 2.5. Alpha Ceti (Menkar), in the head of the sea monster. Then find magnitude 4.3 Mu Ceti, the northernmost star in the pentagon-shaped head of Cetus. Mu is 7.4° from Alpha. From Mu Ceti, go 2.3° due north to 5.2-magnitude 38 in Aries, and then another 2.9° North at 5.8 magnitude Omicron. From Omicron, take 1.7° almost due East up to 5.5 magnitude Sigma. North of Omicron and Sigma, 2.4° from each, and forming an isosceles triangle with them, is 5.3 magnitude Pi.

The chart plots the position of Uranus only during the five-month interval of its retrograde motion, from August 24, 2022 to January 22, 2023. The tick marks indicate positions for the first day of each month through January 2023.

In the fall of 2022, we find Uranus east of the Omicron-Sigma-Pi isosceles triangle in Aries, and slowly retrograding towards it. Look for a pair of stars, Rho2 and Rho3of magnitudes 5.8 and 5.6, respectively, 21′ (arcminutes) apart, 1.8° east-northeast of Pi, forming another isosceles triangle with Pi as its vertex.

On the night of November 8-9, Uranus is in opposition and visible all night.

On December 22, Uranus passes between Sigma and Pi Ari, about 0.9 from Sigma and 1.5° from Pi, entering the isosceles triangle Omicron-Sigma-Pi. Uranus will remain inside the triangle for two months until it exits between the same two stars on February 21, 2023. Between these dates, Uranus ends retrograde on January 22, 2023, when it will only be 0.5° northeast of magnitude 6.7. star HIP13069 drawn in the lower part of the triangle.

We hope that people using binoculars and Bob Miller’s search chart, in combination with the evening constellation map for October or December on the reverse side of these months Sky calendarscan easily locate Uranus.


Neptune: Using binoculars at dusk, aim for Jupiter and look mostly below in the same field of view for a compact group of six stars we call Neptune’s Pendulum, consisting of stars of magnitudes 4, 4 to 5.9, with a range less than 5.3°. Its stars are designated by the Flamsteed numbers 20, 24, 27, 29, 33 and 30 in Pisces, midway between Iota Ceti and the Diadem of Pisces. Useful for locating Neptune in 2022-2025, this November asterism is close to Jupiter, between 1.4° and 4.3° on November 1, dropping to 1.7° to 4.4° from Jupiter on November 30. The 5.5 magnitude star 20 Piscium is the northernmost member of the asterism and marks the end of the “Louche” handle. This star is west-southwest (right) of Jupiter, from 3.2° on November 1, to 2.3° when Jupiter ends retrograde on November 23, increasing slightly to 2.4° on November 30 .

In November, a line from Jupiter to 20 Psc, extended, locates Neptune. Neptune is west-southwest of 20 Psc, from 3.5° on November 1, to 3.8° when the weak planet ends in retrograde on December 3. Don’t be fooled by the magnitude 7.2 star HIP116402, 3.3° west-southwest of 20 Psc and brighter than the magnitude 7.8 planet! Binoculars with an aperture of at least 50mm and clear, dark skies are recommended for detecting this eighth known and most distant planet in our solar system. Select nights when the moon is not too bright or too close to Neptune’s field.


Mornings: Mars brightens from magnitude -1.2 to -1.8 in November in the west to west-northwest, dropping lower as the month progresses. Mars appears in opposition on the night of December 7, as it is up all night – low in the east-northeast at dusk, high in the south in the middle of the night and low in the west-north- west at dawn. Thereafter, it can be tracked in the early evening sky. Mars retrograde (moves west) 5.5° in November, passing directly between stars in Taurus – second magnitude Beta and third magnitude Zeta— the morning of November 13. From November 19 to 23, Mars passes less than 4° south of Beta, the tip of the northern horn.

The shimmering blue-white star of the dog, Sirius, in the southwest at magnitude -1.4, is the brightest point of light in the November morning sky until the stable reddish Mars eclipses it from the second week. Mars’ brightening is caused in part by its decreasing distance, from 57.4 million miles on the morning of November 1, at closest approach to 50.6 million miles on the evening of November 30. The other factor increasing the luminosity of the planet is the phase effect, Where outpouring of opposition, with Mars’ phase going from 94% on November 1 to 100% full on December 7, when the Red Planet will be at oppositionwhen Earth passes between Mars and the Sun.

After the total lunar eclipse in the pre-dawn hours of Tuesday, November 8 (more on the eclipse below), the waning moon passes through Taurus, November 9-11. Look about an hour before sunrise, before twilight gets much brighter, to catch the moon 3 or 4° south of the Pleiades cluster on November 9; 7-8° North of Aldebaran, Bull’s Eye, November 10; and 2 to 3° north of Mars on November 11. Track the Moon and Mars until sunrise on the last morning, and you’ll have a good chance of getting a daytime sighting of Mars, with binoculars if not with the naked eye.

Continuing east through the zodiac, the moon forms an isosceles triangle with the “twin” stars, Pollux and Beaver in Gemini, 6-7° from each, on November 13. Twin stars are 4.5° apart. On November 16 (last quarter moon, half full) and November 17 (a large crescent), the moon appears at 7 or 8° Regulus, heart of Leon the Lion. Spacecraft Earth is heading directly for Regulus on November 22. A thin crescent moon, 8% full with an earth glow illuminating its dark side, appears 5° lower left of Spica November 21. The last old crescent moon, 3% filled, can be spotted very low in the east-southeast during mid-morning twilight on November 22.

On October 30, Mars begins 74 days of retrograde (westward) motion, ending on January 12, 2023. Mars begins retrograde 2.7° north-northeast of Zeta. Mars will peak at magnitude -1.9 between its closest approach to Earth on November 30 and its opposition and overnight visibility on December 7.


Through the Telescope: In the evening, Jupiter’s cloud belts and the changing positions of the four bright satellites are fascinating to observe. Saturn’s rings are gradually closing; they are tilted 15° from the edge on November 19, 14° on December 22, and 13° on January 14, so look for your best view of the rings soon through spring 2028.

In November and December 2022, the bright northern limb of Mars is mainly the NPH, or North Polar Hood (cloud cover covering the northern polar region), and not the North Polar Cap (NPC), composed of water and dioxide ice. of carbon on the Martian surface. The northern spring equinox of Mars will occur on December 26, and in the following weeks the NPH will dissipate and reveal the NPC. Get out those goggles and start looking for surface features on Mars, though Martian dust storms can diminish our vision. For illustrations with a description of expected seasonal changes on Mars in the current apparition, visit alpo-astronomy.org/jbeish/2022_MARS.htm.

There will be a total lunar eclipse in the pre-dawn hours of Tuesday, Election Day, November 8. (Remember to vote!) From the western United States, the partial phase begins at 1:09 a.m., and the 86 minute total eclipse begins at 2:16 a.m. The deepest stage and likely the darkest of the eclipse, when the moon is closest to the center of the Earth’s shadow, occurs at 2:59 a.m. At this time, clockwise, beginning by the star Pi in Aries, the eclipsed moon will be closely surrounded by three stars and Uranus: Pi at the top right of the moon, then Omicronand Sigma in Aries, and Uranus, top left of the moon. The moon begins to emerge from totality at 3:42 a.m. and is completely out of umbra at 4:49 a.m., when only a slight penumbral shadow will be noticed.

The moon’s entire encounter with the shadow, or dark core of the Earth’s shadow, takes 3 hours and 40 minutes, so if you want to see the most beautiful and colorful scene of the eclipse, try 2h -2h30, or 3:30-4h

Sky calendar includes illustrations of many of the events described in this article. To subscribe or to see a sample issue, visit www.abramsplanetarium.org/skycalendar.

Robert Victor is at the origin of the monthly Abrams Planetarium Sky calendar in October 1968, and still produces issues on occasion, including December 2022. He enjoys being outdoors sharing the wonders of the night sky. Robert Miller, who provided the twilight maps and Uranus search map accompanying this column, did graduate work in planetarium science and later astronomy and computer science at Michigan State University and remains active in research and public awareness in astronomy.

Comments are closed.