See Fireballs and Jupiter at Its Brightest This Month — Plus Other Night Sky Events
Rest up: November’s night sky will keep you up late
For astronomy enthusiasts, the northern hemisphere’s dwindling daylight means one thing: more time for stargazing. For that, November has you covered.
The month starts with a can’t-beat Jupiter sighting and continues to delight with several meteor shower peaks. It’s also a great time to catch the northern lights — here are our favorite aurora-hunting spots in the U.S. With chilling weather, it’s important to bring a warm winter coat, a travel thermos to keep that cocoa piping, and, as always, a reliable headlamp with stargazing-friendly red light for safety.
Ready to catch the cosmos? Here’s where to start.
Nov. 2-3: Jupiter at Opposition
Around 1 a.m. ET on Nov. 3, Jupiter will reach its closest point to Earth for 2023. The planet will shine overhead at a -2.9 magnitude at this time, making it the sky’s brightest object after the sun, moon, and Venus, according to EarthSky. To see Jupiter’s brilliant disk and a handful of its moons, grab your stargazing binoculars or a telescope.
Nov. 5-6: Southern Taurid Meteor Shower Peak
The Southern Taurid meteor shower peaks the nights of Nov. 5-6, according to the American Meteor Society. The Southern Taurids don’t generate as many shooting stars as, say, the Orionids. Light from a waning crescent moon could obscure the meteors from after midnight to dawn, too, according to EarthSky. Yet, if the weather cooperates, it’s still worth a try. The Taurids are known for eye-popping fireballs — impressively bright meteors that appear nearly as vibrant as Venus, the solar system’s brightest planet. Head away from light pollution, and gaze toward the Taurus constellation to enjoy the show.
Nov. 9: Moon and Venus Pairing
Head out early on the morning of Nov. 9 to admire a vibrant Venus just above the waning crescent moon. According to EarthSky, the duo will appear in the east-northeast sky. You can admire them together again in mid-December, but Space.com notes Nov. 9 will be the most dramatic pairing.
Nov. 11-12: Northern Taurid Meteor Shower Peak
A nearly new moon makes this branch of the Taurids a can’t-miss stargazing event. Optimal viewing hits around midnight on Nov. 11-12; a dark-sky location, such as a national park, will enhance your Northern Taurids experience.
Nov. 13: Uranus Reaches Opposition
See Uranus at its annual opposition the night of Nov. 13; the bulls-eye planet will be visible all night. According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, Uranus — best viewed with binoculars or a telescope — will appear as a greenish dot between Jupiter and the star cluster Pleiades.
Nov. 17-18: Leonid Meteor Shower Peak
From Nov. 3 to Dec. 2, the Leonids will send meteors soaring through the night sky, with the peak of activity hitting Nov. 17-18. The Leonids should produce around 10 meteors per hour under the right conditions, according to Royal Museums Greenwich. A dim, five-day-old waxing crescent moon will help, as will a viewing spot with low light pollution. Look just right of the constellation Leo to spot the meteors.
Nov. 18: Pleiades Star Cluster Reaches Its Highest Point
November is the perfect time to admire the Pleiades star cluster, an asterism of more than 1,000 stars that shine from nightfall to dawn this month, according to Space.com. Scientists say the cluster, also known as the Seven Sisters, is no more than 150 million years old. Its brightest stars shimmer in hues of hot blue. You can watch it just above the Taurus constellation; it will reach its highest point in the night sky at midnight on Nov. 18, according to Royal Museums Greenwich.