The table below shows key data for the planets this month, including rise, transit and set times, as well as magnitude, apparent size and position data (right ascension and declination).
Events that occur when the sun is below the horizon are shown with a black background and white text. All other events happen when the sun is in the sky and other for not visible for observation.
You can see that November’s sky is not particularly rich for planetary observing. Mercury and Mars make morning appearances this month, whilst Venus, Jupiter and Saturn all set after the sun. None of the bright planets are visible at transit (this is the highest point in the sky as they cross the southern horizon) but Uranus and Neptune are if you fancy a challenge?
There’s more detail on all the planets further down the page and the table below can be downloaded as a PDF from the printables section.
All night sky images on this page are courtesy of SkySafari Pro 6. Click here to find out more about the software (opens new tab).
Little planet Mercury puts on quite a show for us this month. Things don’t start too promisingly, but they get better and better as November progresses.
At the beginning of the month, Mercury is setting very soon after the sun and is not visible in the glare of dusk.
On the 11th of the month the little planet gets so close to the sun that it actually makes a rare transit in front of it. If you’re in the right location and have It appropriate sun-safe equipment, you can watch the tiny black dot of Mercury cross the face of our nearest star for more than 5 hours on Monday 11th of November. See more detail in this month’s solar system challenges.
Finally, as if that wasn’t enough, Mercury will stray further from the sun than it has for most of this year, meaning we have our best chance to observe it. On the morning of Thursday, 28 November, the tiny planet will rise one hour and 45 minutes before the sun. This will be a rare opportunity to see Mercury against a dark background.
Don’t miss your chance to enjoy both of these Mercurial spectacles.
The brightest planet in our skies at night has reappeared after a few weeks of not being visible. However, its visibility this month is still nothing to write home about. Always low on the horizon soon after sunset, it’s only its brightness (magnitude -3.9) that gives us a fighting chance of seeing it before it sets in the early evening.
Look out for its conjunction with Jupiter on the 24th of the month. For about three evenings, centered on the 24th, you’ll may be able to see both Venus and Jupiter in the same field of view if you have low magnification and a wide field of view eyepiece. At their closest approach to each other, the planets will be less than 1.5° apart.
Mars is another planet which improves as the month goes on but also offers little in the way of entertainment during November. And ‘little’ is the most appropriate word!
At an apparent size of just four arcseconds, Mars only appears as large as Uranus in our telescopes. It does shine significantly more brightly, at magnitude 1.7 compared to 5.7 for Uranus, making it much easier to find.
The best time to try and see the planet, which will glow like an orangey-red star, is at the end of the month, an hour or two before sunrise. Not only will it be higher in the sky then, but there will be no moon to disrupt your observing.
You’d be forgiven for thinking the planets were shy of us this month because Jupiter is another whose show diminishes as the days pass.
In early November we can see the planet more than 10° above the horizon as dusk starts to fall and it sets a couple of hours after the sun. By the end of the month the gas giant will dip below the horizon just 90 minutes after the sun, leaving scant time and darkness for us to observe it.
It does put on one final show before it leaves our night sky completely next month when, as you may have read above, it moves to within 2° of Venus over the 23rd, 24th and 25th of November.
Happily, Saturn is still putting on a good show for us this month. The ringed planet starts the month high in the sky as dusk sets in during the early days of November. Unfortunately, the waxing moon will be disruptive to our efforts to view it.
The views of Saturn don’t diminish significantly over the course of the month – the ringed planet does not set until three hours after the sun during the final week of November. During that same week the moon is new, which has two benefits, the first is that the sky is dark enough for us to take in good views of Saturn’s rings. The second is that Saturn has a close encounter (less than 2°) with the three-day-old moon on November 29, which will be a nice view for us to pull into our scopes.
Uranus and Neptune are the only two planets which reach their highest point in the sky during the hours of darkness this month. Click on the pictures above to see detail of where they are located. Uranus is highest around 11pm, with Neptune reaching its peak three hours earlier, at around 8pm.