Tour November’s Sky: Predawn Planets

As you'll hear in this month's astronomy podcast, Venus and Jupiter are putting on quite a show low in the east before dawn.

The return to standard time (November 5th in the U.S. and Canada) means that most of us are still heading home from work as evening’s twilight sets in. but that's a good thing, because it means you can sneak in a little stargazing before dinnertime.

Venus-Jupiter in November 2017

Look low in the east before dawn to watch Venus and Jupiter draw closer and closer together. Make sure your horizon is clear in that direction.
Sky & Telescope

These shorter days also mean it'll likely be dark when you get up, and this month the predawn sky features some drama. Venus has been dazzling the past few months, but now it’s dropping fast. It rises about 90 minutes before sunrise as November opens but only 45 minutes ahead of it at month’s end.

Meanwhile, Jupiter is sneaking up from the horizon. As Venus sinks lower down and Jupiter rises up out of the twilight glow, the gap between them shrinks. At their closest they'll be only ¼° apart — but on which date does that happen? Listen to the podcast to find out!

The evening sky features Pegasus, the Flying Horse, which is almost overhead around 8 p.m. Look high in the southeast for a giant diamond in the sky that’s about the size of your hand with your fingers spread wide apart. Skywatchers the world over know this as the Great Square, representing the chest of Pegasus. Look below it and to its right for compact groups of stars that mark three different constellations. (Which ones? The podcast will tell you!)

There's much more to see in the nighttime sky. To learn more, listen to or download our monthly astronomy podcast below. It provides a 7-minute-long tour of the stars and planets that you'll see this month.

3 thoughts on “Tour November’s Sky: Predawn Planets

  1. misha17

    I mentioned to your colleague, Alan MacRobert, that the leading stars on the Western edge of the Great Square of Pegasus are almost exactly 12 hours of Right Ascension away from the Pointers in the Big Dipper. If you start a line from the lower star, run it past the upper star, and extend it northward, it will pass by Polaris. If you keep the line going and have a clear northern horizon, the line will reach the Dipper’s Pointers, low on the horizon. The Great Square is a larger asterism, and further from the North Celestial Pole than the Big Dipper, so its stars are not as obvious a “compass” as the Pointer’s stars.

  2. Graham-Wolf

    Ahaaaa.

    More lovely planets to look at, just as the Eastern dawn starts to kick in.
    And… I’m about to pack up my ‘scope after another frenetic session chasing and measuring comets.
    And crash heavily into bed for a few scant hours.

    BUT…,,.before I do…. one last look to the Eastern horizon!

    There they clearly are…two old “friends”:- Venus and Jupiter.
    I’m certainly not complaining.
    Telescope, Binoculars, or just the MKI eyeball…. it’s still gotta be good!
    And it usually is.

    Graham.W. Wolf at 46 South, Dunedin, NZ.

  3. Cee Gee

    Thank you SO much for including pre-dawn info! I work graveyard driving routes so, when I’m able to stop and look, your guidelines are very helpful to this amateur observer.

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