Dark Skies November Update
2 years 3 weeks ago
The all-sky chart shows the night sky for mid November at around 10pm. One of the most prominent winter star groups, or constellation to use the correct name, is becoming visible in the south east sky now. This is Orion, one of the “sign post” constellations, so called since once you learn to identify this pattern, you use it as a sign post to discover the surrounding constellations. If you have a pair of binoculars, have a look at the area a couple of degrees below the three stars of the “belt” of Orion. You should see a small misty fuzz of light around a couple of fainter stars. What you're looking at is actually a “stellar nursery”, a birthplace of new stars into the Cosmos.
The evening sky is rather bereft of planets at the moment, you're going to have to wait a couple of months for some to become visible. If your an early riser, the morning skies are much more alive. Rising a couple of hours before the Sun, Venus is blazing away in the morning sky in the south east and is accompanied by Jupiter and Mars at the moment. For the next couple of months, this trio of planets will herald the coming sunrise, with Venus slowly slipping down back towards the Sun over the weeks ahead. If you fancy something photogenic, a thin crescent Moon will be amongst this group in the dawn skies between the 5th and 8th November.
There are also a couple of meteor showers active during November, so you may see more than the usual odd meteor now and then. Again in the morning skies around the 18th, the Leonid Meteors are at their best, appearing in the south east skies just higher and to the right of the Venus/Mars/Jupiter grouping. In the past, this shower has produced a real storm of meteors, up to 100+ per hour, although this is not expected to occur this year. If you're lucky, you may catch a meteor streaking through the skies every 6-7 minutes or so. The Taurid shower is the other active shower, yielding long slow meteors through the middle of the month.
Good luck and clear skies.