Friday, November 9
Saturday, November 10
Sunday, November 11
Monday, November 12
Tuesday, November 13
Wednesday, November 14
Thursday, November 15
Friday, November 16
Saturday, November 17
At roughly the same time, Jupiter's Great Red Spot (actually pale orange-tan) appears nearest to the center of the planet's disk. For many more such Jupiter events all this month, see the November Sky & Telescope, pages 53-54.
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 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 the even larger Uranometria 2000.0 (stars to magnitude 9.75). And read how to use sky charts with a telescope effectively.
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.
Can a computerized telescope replace charts? Not for beginners, I don't think, and certainly not on mounts and tripods that are less than top-quality mechanically (able to point with better than 0.2° repeatability). As Terence Dickinson and Alan Dyer say in their invaluable Backyard Astronomer's Guide, "A full appreciation of the universe cannot come without developing the skills to find things in the sky and understanding how the sky works. This knowledge comes only by spending time under the stars with star maps in hand."
This Week's Planet Roundup
Mercury is lost in the glare of the Sun.
Venus (magnitude –3.9, in Virgo) rises in the east in darkness an hour before the first glimmer of dawn. By dawn it's shining brightly fairly high.
Look for much-fainter Spica below Venus or, later in the week, to its lower right or right.
Mars (magnitude +1.2, moving from Ophiuchus to Sagittarius) remains low in the southwest in evening twilight.
Jupiter (magnitude –2.8, in Taurus) rises in the east-northeast in late twilight now, with Aldebaran to its right and dimmer El Nath (Beta Tauri) farther to its left. Above Aldebaran are the Pleiades. The whole arrangement climbs into fine view as the evening advances.
Saturn (magnitude +0.6, in Virgo) is emerging into dawn view low in the east. Look for it below or lower left of bright Venus. They appear closer together every day.
Uranus (magnitude 5.8, in Pisces) and Neptune (magnitude 7.9, in Aquarius) are conveniently placed in the south in early to mid-evening. Finder charts for Uranus and Neptune.
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) equals Universal Time (also known as UT, UTC, or GMT) minus 4 hours. Eastern Standard Time is UT minus 5 hours.
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