The Night Sky This Month: November 2022

Meteor Shower
Image Credit: Michal Mancewicz

A total Lunar Eclipse or “Blood Moon” will occur on November 8th. The eclipse will be visible in most of the Pacific Ocean region, eastern Russia, Japan, Australia, and throughout most of western and central North America.

In November, planetary viewing remains poor, with both Mercury and Venus being inaccessible throughout the month. However, Mars and the three nearest gas planets rise to respectable elevations, which should make them relatively easy to spot and follow. There will also be two meteor showers to enjoy in November, namely The Taurids and the Leonids.

The Moon Phases in November 2022

First Quarter Full Moon Third Quarter New Moon
November 1st November 8th November 16th November 23rd

The Planets in November 2022

  • The planet Mercury will not be visible throughout November, because it will remain within 4 degrees of the Sun as it approaches a point of superior conjunction with the Sun.
  • The planet Venus  is now moving away from its point of superior conjunction with the Sun, but note that the planet will remain within about 2 degrees of the Sun throughout November and will therefore not be visible for several weeks.
  • The planet Mars is now approaching a point of opposition and is therefore visible as an early morning object. As seen from about latitude 250N, the Red planet will become visible above the northeastern horizon at around 22:07 (EDT), and rise to about 88 degrees above the southern horizon. The planet will then sink to about 50 degrees above the western horizon before becoming lost in the pre-dawn twilight.
  • The planet Jupiter recently passed a point of opposition, and it is now visible as an early evening object, rising as it does in the east at about 18:53 (EDT). The planet will rise to an elevation of 62 degrees above the southern horizon before setting in the west at about 03:56 (EDT)
  • The planet Saturn, like Jupiter, is now visible as an early evening object. As viewed from about latitude 250N, the planet becomes visible above the southern horizon at an elevation of 45 degrees at about 19:06 (EDT). However, the planet will rise only marginally to an elevation of 47 degrees, before setting in the southwest at about 30 minutes after midnight. The planet will set progressively earlier as the month wears on until by month’s end, Saturn will set at around 22:41 (EDT).

Meteor Showers in November 2022

Although November 2022 will see two meteor showers, neither shower will be particularly spectacular or prolific. Below are some details-

– The Taurids Meteor Shower usually runs from about September 7th to about December 10th, with the peak expected to occur just before midnight on November 4th. While this shower typically produces only 5 to 10 meteors per hour during the peak period, this year, the nearly Full Moon will extinguish all but the brightest meteors. This could make it difficult to distinguish between Taurids meteors and the normal background meteor activity given that Taurids meteors can appear from any point in the sky.

– The Leonids Meteor Shower will, as always, peak on the night of November 17th and will produce about 15 or so meteors per hour during the peak period. The second quarter moon,however, will extinguish many, if not most faint meteors, but since the Leonids is unpredictable in terms of the number of meteors it produces, there may be a higher than expected number of meteors during the peak,  as has often happened before. This year, the Leonids shower is best seen after midnight from a dark site, but as with many other showers, Leonids meteors can appear from any point in the sky.

Deep Sky Objects to Look for in November 2022

The deep sky objects listed below are best viewed from latitudes below about 300N, but may still be accessible to observers from higher latitudes, albeit low on the horizon.

Messier 55(M55, NGC 6809, GCl 113, C 1936-310)

Located about 17,600 light-years away in the southern reaches of the constellation Sagittarius, this spectacular magnitude 6.3 globular cluster is well worth observing as it becomes accessible soon after sunset. All told, the cluster contains about 269 000 solar masses, and although this cluster is an easy target for modest binoculars, a medium-sized telescope will resolve individual stars in the outer fringes of the cluster.

Messier 44(M44 Praesepe, NGC 2632, Cr 189)

Also known as the Beehive Cluster, M44 contains about 1000 confirmed member stars, and at a distance of only  520–610 light years, it is among the closest open star clusters to Earth. Without optical aid, the Beehive Cluster appears as a faint patch of light that resembles a beehive, but modest binoculars and small telescopes will resolve individual stars in the cluster. As a point of interest, the age and proper motion of M44 largely coincide with those of the Hyades cluster in Taurus, which suggests that the two clusters may have a common origin, although this has not been determined with any degree of certainty.

 NGC2232 (Cr 93, C 0624-047)

Located about 1,060 light-years away in the constellation Monoceros, and centered on the bright star 10 Monocerotis, this magnitude 4.2 open cluster is of huge scientific interest because almost all of the member stars contain higher abundances of iron than the Sun. Several member stars also radiate excess infrared light at wavelengths that suggest the stars are surrounded by dense dust clouds, while one A-class star, designated HD 45435, radiates excess infrared light at a wavelength of 24 micrometers. This suggests that the star is in an early to intermediate evolutionary state, meaning that it is not yet a main-sequence star.

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