Click on any planet below to go straight to its section.
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.
November is another superb planet-watching month, if you’re into gas giants. Jupiter reaches opposition on the 2nd, and Saturn is an easy watch in the late evening.
Venus is very easy to spy in the morning, but Mercury is very tough to track down in the later days of the month – and too close to the sun before that. Mars remains stubbornly out of sight as it passes behind the sun and switches from being an evening to a morning planet.
If you relish a challenge, this month might be a great time to track down our most distant neighbors, Uranus and Neptune, both of which ride high in the ;ate evening, either side of Jupiter’s path across the sky.
All of the images below can be opened full screen in a new tab by clicking on them
Although Mercury is above the horizon here, at 5:30 p.m., it is too close to the sun to be observed.
At the same time 10 days later, Mercury has moved away from the sun but the ecliptic is shallow and we still can’t see it.
It’s 5:30 p.m. again here and we could just catch a glimpse of the planet a short distance above the horizon.
At the beginning of the month, Mercury is an evening planet. It sets after the sun but, on the night of the fifth, this is only by around 20 minutes, making the planet too low on the horizon and too close to the sun for us to observe it.
The evening ecliptic is shallow now and that means that, even as Mercury pulls away from the sun, it remains very low on the horizon and it sets soon after our star does. In the middle of the month, it still sets only 40 minutes after the sun.
By the end of the month, the gap between Mercury and Sun has increased enough that even the shallow ecliptic doesn’t stop us from being able to spy the little planet. However it’s still only a few degrees above the southwest horizon 40 minutes after sunset. A telescope will reveal its 80% illuminated disc, but it it’s very small right now, only six arcseconds across.
Over 20° high in the east, this is the view of Venus at 5 a.m.
Ten days later, at 5:30 a.m., the planet shines unmistakably bright, at magnitude -4.2.
Also at 5:30 a.m., your telescope will reveal a fattening disc, now two-thirds illuminated.
Throughout November, the Venusian disc shrinks but the proportion of illuminated increases, resulting in a brightness that barely changes across the month.
We’ll see the second-closest planet to the sun is 22 arcseconds wide and 55% lit on the first on the month, which transitions to 17 arcseconds wide and 67% illuminated by the thirtieth. Venus is moving away from us and gradually heading for a journey around the opposite side of the sun to us. As it get further away, it looks smaller, but, as it gets close to the back of the sun (from our perspective) more of its disc appears to be lit.
We can enjoy Venus from a couple of hours before dawn until sunrise this month.
We can just see Mars to the left of the sun in this image, timed just after sunset.
We’re just two days away from superior conjunction, when Mars passes directly behind the sun.
Now technically a morning planet, this is the view at 7 a.m. It’ll still be several weeks before we can see Mars in a dark sky.
The Red Planet passes directly behind the sun – known as superior conjunction – on the 17th of the month. After that, Mars will begin its steady journey back towards us. But, for now, there is no viewing to be had.
We won’t see the planet at all until spring next year.
This view at 10 p.m. shows the giant planet high above the southeast horizon in Cetus. Just past opposition, its disc is 48 arcseconds wide.
At the same time ten days later, Jupiter is 60° high and is disc shines at magnitude -2.9.
Barely changes ten days later, except it now transits (is highest) just after 10 p.m.
In contrast to Mars, Jupiter reaches opposition on the second of November. This is the moment when it will be directly opposite the sun from our perspective, i.e. Jupiter, Earth and the sun will be in a straight line.
There are two great aspects to opposition as a backyard astronomer. Firstly, the planet is visible all night long and, secondly, this is as close as Jupiter comes to Earth, so it’s as big and bright as we’ll see it all year.
Make sure to use any clear skies this month to point your telescope in Jupiter’s direction and enjoy that huge, 50-arcsecond disc.
Saturn is transiting around 8 p.m. at the start of the month, which is the time of this chart. The ringed planet is 38° high in the south.
Not a lot has changed ten days later. The disc is still 17 arcseconds wide and shining at magnitude 0.8.
As the month progresses, the best viewing times get earlier in the evening. This is the scene at 7 p.m.
Saturn’s disc size doesn’t change dramatically with time because it is so far away from us that the closest and farthest approaches of the planet aren’t that much different to each other.
We’ve got great evening viewing throughout November, when Saturn will be at its highest around 8 p.m. at the beginning of the month, and 7 p.m. at its end. The disc maintains a steady size of 17 arcseconds and a brightness of magnitude 0.8 for most of the month.
At 10 p.m. in the middle of the month, Uranus can be seen chasing Jupiter into Cetus from Aries. It’s visible to the naked eye in a dark sky at magnitude 5.6.
At the same time, Neptune has run off far ahead of Jupiter and is about to emerge from Pisces into Aquarius. It’s weak glow is magnitude 7.9.
We can see the two most distant worlds of our solar system at the same reasonable late evening time. Neptune is far ahead of Jupiter in the southwest, while Uranus is lagging behind the giant planet in the southeast.
Use the table below to see when each of the planets is observable for each day this month. Click on it for full screen.
A planet is classed as observable when it is more than 10° above the horizon and the sky is dark enough for it to be observed.