Full Moon | November 2021 Sky Happenings

November 2, 2021
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Venus remains in the evening sky this month. Venus outshines everything except the Sun and the Moon, so it is unmistakable low in the southwest at dusk.

Jupiter and Saturn remain well placed for evening observing this fall. Look for Jupiter and Saturn in the south as night falls. Jupiter is brighter than all the stars we ever see at night. Saturn, to Jupiter’s right, is somewhat dimmer but still outshines all of the stars near it.

Mars remains lost in the Sun’s glare this month and is thus not visible.

An aircraft taking off from Ronald Reagan National Airport is seen passing in front of the Moon as it rises, Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017 in Washington. Today’s full Moon is the first of three consecutive supermoons. The two will occur on Jan. 1 and Jan. 31, 2018. A supermoon occurs when the moon’s orbit is closest (perigee) to Earth at the same time it is full. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Constellations in the November southern sky are almost entirely devoid of bright stars. They represent beasts and gods related to water, indicating that they are part of the ‘Celestial Sea’. Examples are Aquarius, the Water Bearer and Pisces, the Fish. Even Capricornus, the Goat, has a fish tail because he’s originally Ea, Babylonian god of the waters. Below Aquarius is the one bright star in this area, Fomalhaut, marking the mouth of the Southern Fish. Ancient Mesopotamians imagined that the Persian Gulf extended upwards into the sky, joining this ‘sea’ of dim stars.

As the autumn ‘intermission’ in between the bright stars of summer and winter continues, Houstonians with a clear southern horizon can try to find a star that few Americans get to see. Due south and very low to the horizon at about 10:00 pm in mid-November is Achernar, 9th brightest star in the sky. It marks the end of the river Eridanus, another of the dim watery patterns that fill the southern autumn sky. If you can find it, Achernar will seem of average brightness because it is shining through so much air. Still, it is a good way to remind yourself that the stars we see depend on our latitude, and that the sky on the Gulf Coast is similar to, but not the same as, what most Americans see.

This star map shows the Houston sky at 9 pm CDT on November 1, 7 pm CST on November 15, and dusk on November 30. To use the map, put the direction you are facing at the bottom.

The Summer Triangle is high in the west. The ‘teapot’ of Sagittarius sets in the southwest. Jupiter and Saturn are almost due south as night falls. Venus remains low in the southwest at dusk. The Great Square of Pegasus is high in the east at dusk. To the south and east, we see a vast dim area of stars known as the ‘Celestial Sea’, where only Fomalhaut stands out.

Moon Phases in November 2021:

New November 4, 4:15 p.m.

1st Quarter November 11, 6:46 a.m.

Full November 19, 2:58 a.m.

Last Quarter November 27, 6:28 a.m.

The Full Moon of Friday morning, November 19, passes through the Earth’s shadow, causing a lunar eclipse! The Moon first touches the shadow at 1:18 am.  By 3:02, it is at maximum eclipse, with 97% of the Moon’s diameter is in the shadow. Thus, this eclipse is almost, but not quite, total. The Moon then leaves the Earth’s shadow by 4:47 am. Our George Observatory will be open all night November 18-19 for observing this eclipse. The public should arrive about 9:30 before the automatic gates close.

Sunday, November 7, is the first Sunday of November. Accordingly, Daylight Saving Time ends at 2:00 am that morning. Officially, the time goes from 1:59 am back to 1:00, such that the 1:00 am hour happens twice. Don’t forget to set clocks back one hour on Saturday night, November 6.

Our George Observatory is now open every Saturday night for observing! Purchase tickets in advance on our website.

Clear Skies!

Look back to October’s Sky Happenings.

Authored By James Wooten

James is the Planetarium Astronomer at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. He teaches students every school morning in the planetarium, and also answers astronomy questions from the public.

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