One of the most popular stories from ancient myth- ology is told in a group of constellations that highlight November’s sky. Cassiopeia, the vain queen of Ethiopia, claimed that she was the most beautiful woman of all, angering the sea nymphs. They convinced the sea god Neptune to send Cetus, a nasty sea monster, to destroy the kingdom. To appease the gods, King Cepheus ordered his daughter, the princess Andromeda, chained at the edge of the sea as a sacrifice. But she was rescued by Perseus, who flashed the monstrous head of Medusa at Cetus, turning him to stone. Five of these characters stretch from north to southeast in the evening sky.
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In the Sky This Month
November 23: Aurorae
Fall and winter are the best times for viewing the shimmering curtains of light known as aurorae or northern lights. They form when charged particles from the Sun strike atoms of nitrogen and oxygen far above the surface, causing them to glow.
November 24: Capella
Capella, the brightest star of Auriga, the charioteer, is low in the northeast at nightfall. The yellow star arcs high overhead after midnight and is in the northwest at first light. It consists of two stars that are gravitationally bound together.
November 25: First-Quarter Moon
The Moon reaches its first-quarter phase at 11:03 a.m. CST today, so sunlight will illuminate half of the hemisphere that faces Earth. The “first-quarter” name indicates that the Moon is one quarter of the way through its month-long cycle of phases.
November 26: Conspicuous Orion
Orion climbs into view in the east by 8 or 9 p.m. Look for its belt, which is a short line of three bright stars standing almost straight up from the horizon, with a bright orange star to its left and a blue-white star to the right.
November 27: Pisces
The constellation Pisces passes across the south this evening. It consists of two delicate streamers of stars that join to form a V. The point of the V is sometimes called the Heavenly Knot. Star lore says it ties two fish together by their tails.
November 28: Evening Stars
Myriad bright stars twinkle across the sky early this evening. In the west, look for the stars of the Summer Triangle, Vega, Deneb, and Altair. Fomalhaut is low in the south, and yellow-orange Capella is low in the northeast.
November 29: Cassiopeia Clock
Cassiopeia the queen is one of the most prominent star patterns of autumn and early winter. The W- or M-shaped constellation circles the North Star like the hand of a clock, though in a counter-clockwise direction.