Taurus, the celestial bull, is one of the highlights of autumn nights. Its brightest star, orange Aldebaran, rises around sunset in November and reaches its highest point in the sky around midnight. The sparkly Pleiades star cluster, which looks like a tiny dipper, rises to the upper left of Aldebaran. One of its horns ends at the appropriately named star El Nath, the butting one.
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In the Sky This Month
November 17: Cetus
Cetus, the whale or sea monster, is one of the largest constellations. It glides across the southern sky on November evenings. Most of its stars are quite faint, though, so Cetus is difficult to pick out.
November 18: Rising Ram
Aries, the ram, is low in the east at nightfall and soars high across the south in late evening. It’s a faint pattern marked by only a couple of moderately bright stars: Hamal, its brightest, and Sheratan, its second-brightest.
November 19: Orion Returns
Orion, the hunter, is in full view by about 9 or 10 p.m. Look for his three-star belt standing straight up in the east. Orion’s brightest stars line up to the sides of the belt, roughly parallel to the horizon as they rise.
November 20: More Orion
The brightest stars of Orion, which is in the east this evening, are both supergiants. Betelgeuse, at Orion’s shoulder, is a red supergiant, while Rigel, the foot, is blue-white. Look for them flanking the three bright stars that form Orion’s Belt.
November 21: Moon and Aldebaran
The star Aldebaran appears near the Moon the next couple of nights. The eye of Taurus, the bull, stands to the lower left of the full Moon this evening. The Moon will move closer to it later on. Aldebaran will stand even closer to the Moon tomorrow night.
November 22: More Moon and Aldebaran
Aldebaran, the bright eye of Taurus, stands quite close to the upper right of the just-past-full Moon this evening. The proximity of the brilliant Moon should make it difficult to see the star’s orange color.
November 23: Pleiades at Midnight
The Pleiades star cluster passes high across the south at midnight. If you see the cluster out of the corner of your eye, it looks like a bright smudge of light. Look straight at it, though, and you will see six stars that form a tiny dipper.