The year is coming to an end and winters have arrived in the Northern Hemisphere. Here are the top astronomy events for the penultimate month of 2018.
November 5: Taurid Meteor Shower
The month starts with the Taurid meteor shower that will peak on November 5. Some shooting stars associated with the shower are expected to be visible each night from 20 October to 30 November. At its peak, the shower will produce 10 meteors per hour, assuming that the sky is dark and the radiant (the point from where the meteors spike) is directly overhead. If not, then 8-9 per hour in perfectly dark sky.
November 6: Conjunction of Moon and Venus
The Moon and Venus will share the same right ascension, with the Moon passing 9°32′ to the north of Venus. The Moon will be 28 days old. From New Delhi, the pair will be difficult to observe as they will appear no higher than 10° above the horizon. They will be visible in the dawn sky, rising at 05:23 (IST) – 1 hour and 12 minutes before the Sun – and reach an altitude of 10° above the eastern horizon before fading from view as dawn breaks at around 06:19. The Moon will be at mag -8.9, and Venus at mag -4.3, both in the constellation Virgo. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope or pair of binoculars, but will be visible to the naked eye.
November 7: New Moon
The moon will be lost in the glare of the Sun on November 7.
November 8: Close Encounter of Moon and Jupiter
Moon and Jupiter will have a close encounter in the evening of November 8 when they’ll be 3°46′ of each other. This will be a challenging task as the Moon will be only a day old.
November 15: Moon at First Quarter
The Moon will be prominent in the evening sky, setting around midnight. From New Delhi, it will become visible at around 17:43 (IST) as the dusk sky fades, 44° above your southern horizon. It will then reach its highest point in the sky at 18:26, 45° above your southern horizon. It will continue to be observable until around 23:12, when it sinks to 8° above your south-western horizon. At this time in its monthly cycle of phases, it appears almost exactly half illuminated.
November 16: Close Encounter of Moon and Mars
This is the event of the month. The Moon will pass 0°59′ to the south of Mars. The Moon will be 9 days old. The pair will be visible in the evening sky just after the sunset. At this time, the Roman God of War will be the brightest planet in the sky at an apparent magnitude of -0.3 and Moon will be at magnitude of -11.9. The pair will be a little too widely separated to fit comfortably within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.
November 18: Leonids Meteor Shower
The Leonid meteor shower will reach its maximum rate of activity on 18 November 2018. Some shooting stars associated with the shower are expected to be visible each night from 15 November to 20 November. The maximum rate of meteors expected to be visible is around 20 per hour. The Moon will be 11 days old at the time of peak activity, and being so close to Full Moon will severely limit the observations that will be possible.
Annual meteor showers arise when the Earth passes through streams of debris left behind by comets and asteroids. As pebble-sized pieces of debris collide with the Earth, they burn up at an altitude of around 70 to 100 km, appearing as shooting stars.
November 23: Full Moon
The Moon will reach full phase. At this time in its monthly cycle of phases, the Moon lies almost directly opposite the Sun in the sky, placing it high above the horizon for much of the night.
November 30: Venus At Greatest Brightness
On November 30, Venus will reach its greatest brightness of an apparent magnitude of -4.7. From New Delhi, it will rise at 03:51 (IST) – 3 hours and 3 minutes before the Sun – and reach an altitude of 32° above the south-eastern horizon before fading from view as dawn breaks at around 06:37.