November Skies – by Dick Cookman

Highlights: Comet Journal, Martian Landers, Meteor Showers, Planet Plotting, November Moon

Focus Constellations: Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Draco, Cepheus, Cassiopeia, Camelopardalis, Auriga, Taurus, Perseus, Andromeda, Triangulum, Aries, Pisces, Aquarius, Pegasus, Cygnus, Lyra

  • Comet Journals

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (2021) is at 8th magnitude and moves through Gemini into Cancer in November and is at perihelion on November 3. It will be closest to Earth on November 12. C/2021 A1 (Leonard) is a long period (80,000 years) comet discovered in January. It may be a Christmas Comet after passing closest to Earth on December 12 and at perihelion on January 3, 2022! In November it is in Canes Venatici at 10th magnitude and is expected to get much brighter. It may reach magnitude 7 this month, and magnitude 4 in December. Comet 4P/Faye is in Monoceras and Gemini at 10th magnitude in November. Faye passed through perihelion on September 8 and will be closest to Earth on December 6. Comet 6P/d’Arrest (2021) moves into Pisces Austrinus and may reach magnitude 9 in November. It was closest to Earth in August and passed perihelion on September 17.

  • Mars Landers

The Perseverance Rover is positioned to approach the edge of an ancient delta on the margin of Jezero Crater. Investigation of the delta is a major science goal. A key objective for Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The fine grain rock layers at the base of the delta were deposited by a slow, meandering waterway that fed the delta. The upper coarse grain boulder bearing layers were probably deposited by later, fast-moving flash floods. The fine grain layers are thought to be the best target for microfossils and the coarse ones may yield more ancient rocks carried in from beyond the margin of the crater. The major activities for the InSight Lander during the late September and early October solar conjunction were monitoring for further marsquakes activity and continuing with its multi-instrument weather monitoring. After completing its 33rd drilling on Mars on Sept. 7, and then completing analysis of the drilling samples, the Curiosity Rover ceased communication with Earth for 3 weeks during the Mars solar conjunction when Mars was on the other side of the Sun. On Oct. 18, the rover resumed climbing Mt. Sharp, ascending over progressively younger rock layers to reach the next drilling target on November 1 (Sol 3285).

  • Meteor Showers

November Meteor showers include the Leonids and the south and north Taurids. The Leonids are not expected to storm as in 1833 and 1966. Also, they will have to compete with the waxing gibbous Moon. The Taurids are rather minor showers with slow moving meteors and occasional fireballs. 12,900 years ago the melting continental continental ice sheets paused in their retreat and readvanced in a global cooling event known as the Younger Dryas. Nanodiamonds and other impact products of this age recovered from the Great Lakes to Venezuela have been attributed to impact of a swarm of comet disintegration products known as the Taurid Complex.
November 4/5: Southern Taurids. Active Sept. 25-Nov. 25. Radiant 3hr28min +15°. ZHR 4 to 5. 27 km/sec. Waxing Crescent Moon. Progenitor:  Asteroid 2004 TG10, Comet Enke, or Taurid Complex
November 11/12: Northern Taurids. Active Oct. 12-Dec. 12. Radiant 3h52min +22°. ZHR 4 to 5. 29 km/sec. Waxing Gibbous Moon. Progenitor: Asteroid 2004 TG10, Comet Enke, or Taurid Complex
November 16/17: Leonids. Active Oct. 2-Nov. 2. Radiant 10h08min +22°. ZHR 10 to 15. 71 km/sec. Waning Gibbous Moon. Progenitor: Comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle

  • Planet Plotting

Morning planets in November include Mercury (-0.8 to -1.1) in Virgo and Ophiuchus, and Mars (1.7 to 1.6) in Virgo and Libra. They will be less than 1° apart on the 10th at 11:00AM EST when they rise 40 minutes before the Sun.
Venus (-4.3 to -4.5) in Virgo and Ophiuchus is in the western-southwestern sky, setting almost 3 hours after the Sun in November. Venus was on the other side of the Sun in March and now trails Earth by only 1/4 of its orbit, revealing a half lit disk to observers. Even as it moves into its crescent phase, it will brighten in November as it reduces its distance to Earth. It will catch up at inferior conjunction in January and then move into predawn skies. Jupiter (-2.3 to -2.2) and Saturn (+0.6 to +0.7) in Capricornus rise in the eastern sky about noon and are best viewed in the early evening when highest in the southwestern sky. They set in the late evening. Neptune (+7.8 to +7.9) rises in early afternoon in Aquarius and Uranus (+5.7) in Aries rises about 3 hours later.




Planet Passages




Libra – Scorpius


New Moon

5:14PM EDT



Virgo – Ophiuchus

-0.8 to.-1.1

Mars, 0.96°SSW       

Superior Conjunction

11:00AM EST

11:00PM EST




Ophiuchus- Sagittarius

-4.3 to -4.5


Virgo – Libra

1.7 – 1.6

Mercury, 0.96° NNE

11:00AM EST




-2.3 to -2.2



+0.6 to +0.7






7.8 – 7.9

  • November Moon

November’s New Moon on the 4th at 5:14PM EDT is the beginning of Lunation 1223 which ends 29.40 days later with the New Moon of December 4 at 2:43AM EST. The Full Moon of November is on the 20th at 3:58AM EST. It coincides with a partial lunar eclipse in North America and northeastern Asia. Known as the “Frosty or Beaver Moon” since colonial times, it was named the “Snow Moon” in Medieval England. Celts called it “Dark Moon” and Chinese people, on the opposite side of the world, call it “White Moon”. 

Of the 13 Grandmother Moons during each year, Anishinaabe (Odawa & Ojibwe) people call this Moon “Baashkaakodin-Giizis” (Freezing Moon). It has the following associated cultural teaching that explains the cycle of life and nature for the 11th Moon: 

it is “a time when Mother Earth is honored with the grandest of colors. As all of Creation makes their offerings to her, we become aware of all the miracles of Creation before us and our spiritual energies are once again awakened.”

Lunar Perigee distance (minimum lunar distance) is 358,844 km (56.26 Earth radii) on the 5th at 6:28PM EDT. At lunar Apogee (maximum lunar distance) on November 20 at 9:00PM EST, the Moon will be at a distance of 406,279 km (63.70 Earth radii.)

The waning crescent Moon will appear to pass the morning planets – Mercury on the 3rd and Mars on the 4th. The waxing crescent Moon appears to pass the evening planets: Venus on the 8th, Saturn on the 10th, and Jupiter on the 11th. The waxing gibbous Moon will appear to pass the Neptune on the 13th and Uranus on the 17th.




Moon Passages

Moon Phase

Moon Age

Sun Libra


5:14PM EDT, 11/4 New 0 Days
Mercury Virgo


1.12° SW, 4:00PM EDT, 11/3 Waning Crescent 28.26 Days
Venus Sagittarius


1.14°SSW, 1:00AM EST, 11/8 Waxing Crescent 3.32 Days
Mars Virgo


2.13°SW, 3:00AM EDT, 11/4 Waning Crescent 28.72 Days
Jupiter Capricornus


4.2°NNW, 4:00PM EST, 11/11 Waxing Gibbous 6.95 Days
Saturn Capricornus


4.0°NNW, Noon EST, 11/10 Waxing Crescent 5.78 Days
Uranus Aries


1.37°NNW, 11:00PM EST, 11/17 Waxing Gibbous 13.24 Days
Neptune Aquarius


3.9° NNW, 6:00PM EST, 11/13 Waxing Gibbous 9.03 Days