This Week's Sky at a Glance
Some daily events in the changing sky for November 18 26
Friday, Nov. 18
Saturday, Nov. 19
Sunday, Nov. 20
Wednesday, Nov. 23
Thursday, Nov. 24
Friday, Nov. 25
Want to become a better amateur astronomer? Learn your way around the constellations. They're the key to locating everything fainter and deeper to hunt with binoculars or a telescope.
For an easy-to-use constellation guide covering the whole evening sky, use the big monthly map in the center of each issue of Sky & Telescope, the essential magazine of astronomy. Or download our free Getting Started in Astronomy booklet (which only has bimonthly maps).
Once you get a telescope, to put it to good use you need a detailed, large-scale sky atlas (set of charts). The standards are the little Pocket Sky Atlas, which shows stars to magnitude 7.6; the larger and deeper Sky Atlas 2000.0 (stars to magnitude 8.5); and the even larger Uranometria 2000.0 (stars to magnitude 9.75). And read how to use sky charts effectively.
You'll also want a good deep-sky guidebook, such as Sue French's new Deep-Sky Wonders collection (which includes its own charts), Sky Atlas 2000.0 Companion by Strong and Sinnott, the bigger Night Sky Observer's Guide by Kepple and Sanner, or the classic if dated Burnham's Celestial Handbook.
This Week's Planet Roundup
Mercury (about magnitude 0) begins the week nicely visible to the lower right of bright Venus, low in the southwest during twilight. Mercury becomes a little tougher each day, fading and sinking farther away to Venus's lower right.
Venus (magnitude 3.9) is creeping higher into better view in the southwest during twilight. It's on its way up for a grand, high apparition as the "Evening Star" during and after twilight all this winter (for the Northern Hemisphere).
Mars (magnitude +0.9, in Leo) rises around midnight. By the beginning of dawn it's high in the south-southeast. It's near Regulus, which is only a little fainter at magnitude +1.3 and slightly blue-white. Mars and Regulus widen from 4° apart on the morning of November 19th to 7½° by the 26th.
In a telescope Mars is a tiny blob only about 6.7 arcseconds wide. Mars is on its way to opposition next March, when it will reach a width of 13.9 arcseconds.
Jupiter (magnitude 2.8, at the Aries-Pisces border) blazes high in the east at dusk and higher in the southeast to south later in the evening. In a telescope Jupiter still appears a big 48 arcseconds wide. See our guide to observing Jupiter with a telescope.
Saturn (magnitude +0.8) is low in the east-southeast as dawn begins, a little higher every morning. Spot sparkly Spica (magnitude +1.0) 4½° to its right. Brighter Arcturus shines far to their left or upper left.
Uranus (magnitude 5.8, near the Circlet of Pisces) and Neptune (magnitude 7.9, at the Aquarius-Capricornus border) are well placed in the southern sky early in the evening. Use our printable finder chart for both, or see the September Sky & Telescope, page 53.
All descriptions that relate to your horizon including the words up, down, right, and left are written for the world's mid-northern latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude (mainly Moon positions) are for North America. Eastern Standard Time (EST) equals Universal Time (also known as UT, UTC, or GMT) minus 5 hours.
NEW BOOK: Sue French's DEEP-SKY WONDERS! This big, long-awaited observing guide by Sky & Telescope's Sue French is now available from Shop at Sky. Hefty and lavishly illustrated, it contains Sue’s 100 favorite sky tours (25 per season, with finder charts) from her 11 years of writing the Celestial Sampler and Deep-Sky Wonders columns for S&T.
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