This Week’s Sky at a Glance, Oct. 31 – Nov. 8

Some daily sky sights among the ever-changing stars and planets.

Mercury in its best dawn display for 2014 (Nov. 1)

Mercury is having its best dawn showing for 2014. See our article Where, When, and How to See Mercury, and please help publicize it! (The blue 10° scale is about the width of your fist held at arm's length.)

Mercury and Spica at dawn, Nov. 5, 2014Mercury and Spica in the dawn, Nov. 8, 2014 dawFriday, October 31

For Halloween, the first-quarter Moon shines in the south after dark. It's between Altair, very high to its upper right, and Fomalhaut, far down to its lower left.

Saturday, November 1

As the stars come out, Deneb is nearly straight overhead as seen from mid-northern latitudes. Brighter Vega is west of the zenith. Altair is farther from the zenith toward the south.

Sunday, November 2

Algol should be at its minimum light, magnitude 3.4 instead of its usual 2.1, for a couple hours centered on 10:07 p.m. EST (7:07 p.m. PST). Its fading and rebrightening take several additional hours before and after. Here's a comparison-star chart giving the magnitudes of three stars near Algol; use them to judge its changing brightness.

For all times of Algol's minima this month, good worldwide, see the November Sky & Telescope, page 51, or use our Algol predictor.

Monday, November 3

As autumn proceeds, the Great Square of Pegasus looms ever higher at nightfall. It now reaches its level position very high toward the south as early as 8 or 9 p.m. this week — with the Moon shining under its left side tonight (for North America).

Tuesday, November 4

As the stars come out, look high above the waxing gibbous Moon for the Great Square of Pegasus. It's standing on one corner.

Wednesday, November 5

Algol is at minimum light for a couple hours centered on 6:56 p.m. EST.

Thursday, November 6

Full Moon (exactly full at 5:23 p.m. Eastern Standard Time). The Moon shines far below the two or three brightest stars of Aries during the evening. Can you see the Pleiades through the moonlight? The delicate little cluster is well to the Moon's left.

Friday, November 7

The Moon, just past full, rises in the east at dusk. Once it climbs high, look for orange Aldebaran to its lower left and the Pleiades to its upper left.

Saturday, November 8

The waning gibbous Moon rises around the end of twilight. Look for Aldebaran not very far to its upper left. Higher above Aldebaran are the Pleiades.

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Want to become a better astronomer? Learn your way around the constellations. They're the key to locating everything fainter and deeper to hunt with binoculars or a telescope.

This is an outdoor nature hobby; 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 guide to 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'll 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 once you know your way around, the even larger Uranometria 2000.0 (stars to magnitude 9.75). And read how to use sky charts with a telescope.

You'll also want a good deep-sky guidebook, such as Sue French's 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 beloved if dated Burnham's Celestial Handbook.

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This Week's Planet Roundup

Mercury is having its best dawn apparition of 2014 for skywatchers at mid-northern latitudes. It hangs low above the eastern horizon in mid-dawn, brightening slightly from magnitude –0.6 to –0.8 this week. Fainter Spica glimmers nearby. Don't confuse Mercury with Arcturus well off to the left in the east-northeast. See our article, Where, When, and How to See Mercury.

Venus is hidden the glare of the Sun.

Mars and Teapot, Nov. 7, 2014

Have you ever seen the summery Sagittarius Teapot in November? Binoculars will help you pick it out below Mars just as it departs for the year.

Mars (magnitude +0.9) remains in the southwest as twilight fades. Look for it very far below Altair.

Jupiter (magnitude –2.0, between Cancer and Leo) rises in the east-northeast around midnight standard time. By dawn it shines high in the south, with Regulus nearly a fist-width lower left of it.

Saturn is lost in the sunset.

Uranus (magnitude 5.7, in Pisces) and Neptune (magnitude 7.9, in Aquarius) are high in the southeast and south, respectively, shortly after dark now. See our finder charts for Uranus and Neptune online or in the September Sky & Telescope, page 50.

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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 Daylight Time (EDT) is Universal Time (UT, UTC, or GMT) minus 4 hours. Eastern Standard Time (EST) is UT minus 5 hours.

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“This adventure is made possible by generations of searchers strictly adhering to a simple set of rules. Test ideas by experiments and observations. Build on those ideas that pass the test. Reject the ones that fail. Follow the evidence wherever it leads, and question everything. Accept these terms, and the cosmos is yours.”

— Neil deGrasse Tyson, 2014.