November is a time of transition in the night sky. The signature star pattern of summer, the Summer Triangle, drops down the western sky during the evening, while some of the leading constellations of winter, including Orion and Canis Major, creep into view by mid- to late-evening. The zone between them is noticeably devoid of bright stars and constellations. It is dominated by the “celestial sea,” a collection of faint star patterns with a watery theme that stretches from Capricornus, the sea goat, to Cetus, the sea monster. Lonely Fomalhaut, in Pisces Austrinus, the southern fish, is the only bright spot in this stretch of stars.
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In the Sky This Month
November 15: Triangulum
The constellation Triangulum is a skinny triangle wedged between four bigger constellations, including Andromeda the princess and Perseus the hero. If you have a dark sky, look for Triangulum well up in the east at nightfall. Its wedge aims to the right.
November 16: Triangulum Galaxy
Under especially clear, dark skies, the galaxy M33 is just visible to the naked eye. At three million light-years, it is one of the farthest objects visible to the eye alone. As night falls, it’s above the stars that outline the constellation Triangulum.
November 17: Moon and Regulus
Look for the Moon high in the sky at first light tomorrow. Regulus, the bright star that marks the heart of Leo, the lion, will stand to the lower left of the Moon.
November 18: Last-Quarter Moon
The last-quarter Moon rises around midnight tonight and will stand high in the sky at first light tomorrow. Regulus, the brightest star of Leo, will be close to it.
November 19: Venus and Jupiter
Venus and Jupiter, the brightest points of light in the night sky, are quite close together, low in the southwest as the Sun sets. Venus is the brighter light, with Jupiter a little to the upper left of Venus this evening.
November 20: The Whale’s Tail
The star marks the tail of Cetus, the whale or sea monster, is in the southeast at nightfall, to the upper left of the only bright star in that region of the sky, Fomalhaut. Deneb Kaitos is the next-brightest star around, so it’s easy to pick out.
November 21: Moon and Spica
Spica, a star system with an explosive future, will stand to the lower right of the Moon early tomorrow. One of the system’s two known stars is massive enough to end its life as a supernova. Spica is the brightest star of the constellation Virgo.