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Astronomy: November Highlights

11-4-11 RicelakeMilkyway
At the end of November, Venus will be above the teapot in the constellation Sagittarius, seen here to the lower left of the Milky Way. Credit: John Chumack

The brilliant planet Venus will become noticeable in the evening sky again during November. Lying low in the pinkish glow after sunset, Venus shines at magnitude -3.9 with Mercury just below it during the first two weeks of November. By the end of the month, Mercury sinks toward the sun but Venus journeys into Sagittarius near the top of the teapot, and on November 26 a crescent moon stands beside the Goddess of Love.

Jupiter still shines brightly in the east and is more noticeable now because it’s rising when the sky gets dark, offering more people an earlier glimpse. The other two naked-eye planets, Mars and Saturn, are currently in the morning sky, along with Jupiter, which is acting like a true carousing Roman god right now as it is up all night long.

Two meteor showers occur in November, although neither of them have overly impressive displays. This weekend is the South Taurid meteors, which peak at about 8 meteors an hour, and overnight from November 17-18 is the Leonid meteor shower, which is a bit stronger at 10 meteors an hour during peak.

For more on November skies, including a partial solar eclipse at the bottom of the world, see The Night Sky Guide for November 2011.

-- Kelly Kizer Whitt loves clean, clear, and dark skies. Kelly studied English and Astronomy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and worked for Astronomy magazine. She writes the SkyGuide for AstronomyToday.com. You can follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/Astronomommy.

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