Manitoba Skies – November 2020
November is often quite cloudy, but there are a number of celestial sights to watch for this month. We watch Jupiter and Saturn get closer in the evening sky, and Mars continues its climb higher into the south. A couple of minor meteor showers and a lunar eclipse round out the month.
Mercury begins to become visible in the early morning sky around mid-month. You can see it below and t the left of brilliant Venus, which dominates the early morning sky. Look about 30 minutes before sunrise, about half as high above the horizon as Venus is.
Venus rises about 3 am in the east-northeast, and is well above the horizon in the east at dawn. The thin crescent moon is nearby on Novemebr 12th and 13th.
Mars is already up int eh east as darkness falls, still the brightest object in this part of the sky. Mars begins to slowly recede this month, as its orbit starts to carry it farther away after its October close approach. Still, mars is bigger and brighter this month than most of the rest of the decade, so it’s still a great time to use a telescope to see it up close.
Jupiter is low in the southwest at sunset. It stays fairly low in the sky, and sets in mid-evening. so if you have trees of buildings to your south you may need to find a clearer observing site. Jupiter is slowly catching up to Saturn over the next couple of months, so you can see the distance between them shrink substantially through November.
Saturn is just a bit to Jupiter’s left, and follows it across the sky. The famous rings of Saturn are only visible in a telescope.
Uranus and Neptune don’t usually rate on this list because they aren’t visible to the unaided eye. (Technically, Uranus is just visible to the unaided eye from a dark, moonless sky, if you know exactly where to look.) However, this month both are well-placed and can be tracked down with a pair of binoculars or a small telescope. Visit Sky & Telescope magazine for finder charts and tips on how to track down the two farthest planets.
If an entry has a box at the end, click on it to see a star map showing the scene! All star maps are created using Stellarium, the free astronomy software.
1 Nov 2020: Daylight Savings time ends, and suddenly it seems to get dark much earlier in the evening. This artificial adjustment to time makes little sense any more, but old habits are hard to break.
12 Nov 2020 (morning sky): The thin waning crescent moon is above Venus this morning.
13 Nov 2020 (morning sky): A thin sliver of a crescent moon appears below Venus this morning. Mercury and the star Spica are nearby.
17 Nov 2020 (morning sky): The annual leonids meteor shower is scheduled to peak this morning before dawn, but it’s a fairly minor display. Expect only 10-15 meteors an hour if you are in dark skies away from the city.
18 Nov 2020 (evening sky): The thin crescent moon has moved to the evening sky and is lined up with Jupiter and Saturn after sunset.
19 Nov 2020 (evening sky): The slightly-less-thin crescent moon has moved over Jupiter and Saturn, forming a nice triangle.
25 Nov 2020 (evening sky): The gibbous moon is near Mars in the sky.
30 Nov 2020: This Full Moon brings us a penumbral lunar eclipse, visible from Manitoba in the hours before sunrise. It’s not as dramatic as a total lunar eclipse, but still interesting to watch. We’ll have more information available closer to the date, including details of our virtual eclipse party.
The StarLink satellite swarms have been visible over Manitoba lately. These trains of satellites appear as moving “stars” one after the other, following the same path across the sky. To find out when they’ll be visible, consult Heavens-above.com and set it for your location. Or, you can just go outside in the evening and you’ll probably see some.
To see when the International Space Station passes over southern Manitoba, click here. You can find times for other locations across Manitoba and throughout the world, as well as times for other orbiting objects, by visiting Heavens-above.com and entering your location here.