[EDIT 14 November: Oops, just noticed this hadn’t uploaded, sorry folks!]
November starts with full darkness at half past six in the evening. That’s great news for lazy stargazers like me who still like to make it to bed at a reasonable hour. It also means there’s plenty of opportunity for astrophotography, and the winter constellations are beginning to appear.
The Pleiades rise at sunset, a beautiful cluster of stars clearly visible to the naked eye. They are followed by Taurus, with its equally fascinating cluster of the Hyades, then Gemini an hour later, with the twins Castor and Pollux rising in vertical configuration. Finally at about half past ten, Orion lumbers up over the eastern horizon and winter has truly arrived.
The giant planet rises around midnight at the start of the month in Leo, coming forward to about 10pm by the end of the month. At a magnitude of brighter than -2 all month, it is impressive and unmistakable and will be visible all through the night until dawn – when it will be elevated a good 45º or so in the south/south west.
This favourite target of astrophotographers is ideally situated throughout November. It will be highest in the sky (about 75º elevation at its peak) at 10pm at the start of the month and a fantastic 8pm at the end. High in the sky means best quality of photo opportunity, as the camera is looking through the least depth of Earth’s atmosphere. Here is my best so far, but I’m hoping to improve it this year!
Leonids Meteor Shower
The Leonids might put on a good show this year, as the peak on 17th/18th November coincides with the last crescent Moon before the New Moon on the 22nd. The Leonids radiate from Leo, of course, which will be easy to find because of Jupiter’s presence.
Around midnight on the 17th/18th, the radiant will be about 20º above the eastern horizon and the meteors will be fast moving, expected to be about 20 per hour.