The Solar System In November 2016

Dates and times shown are NZDT (UT + 13 hours).

Rise and set times are for Wellington. They will vary by a few minutes elsewhere in NZ.

Sunrise, sunset and twilight times in November

                            November  1  NZST               November 30  NZDT
                    morning  evening                 morning  evening
       SUN: rise:   6.05am,  set:  8.04pm    rise:   5.40am,  set:  8.39pm
Twilights
  Civil:    starts: 5.38am,  ends: 8.32pm    starts: 5.10am,  ends: 9.10pm
  Nautical: starts: 5.02am,  ends: 9.08pm    starts: 4.29am,  ends: 9.51pm
  Astro:    starts: 4.22am,  ends: 9.48pm    starts: 3.41am,  ends:10.39pm

November phases of the moon (times as shown by guide)

          First quarter: November  8 at  8.51 am (Nov  7, 19:51 UT)
  Full moon:     November 15 at  2.52 am (Nov 14, 13:52 UT)
  Last quarter   November 21 at  9.33 pm ( 8:33 UT)
  New moon:      November 30 at  1.18 am (Nov 29, 12:18 UT)

The planets in November 2016

Mercury will be visible, low, early evening near the end of November while brilliant Venus will be easily visible until late evening all month. Mars will be even better placed. Saturn starts the month close to Venus but slips lower in the sky during November to disappear into the evening twilight by the end of the month. Meanwhile Jupiter moves up into the morning sky.

Mercury is an evening object during November. Having been at superior conjunction with the Sun on the 28th, the planet will set less than 15 minutes after the Sun at the beginning of the month, making it unobservable. By the month’s end the time difference will have increased to an hour and three-quarters. Thus towards the end of November the planet, at magnitude -0.5, should be visible once the sky is sufficiently dark. Look for it very low to the southwest in the direction of the set Sun.

Venus, by contrast to Mercury, will be visible all evening, not setting until almost midnight by the end of the month. During November Venus moves across Ophiuchus, passing close to theta Oph, magnitude 3.2, on the 5th. The planet moves into Sagittarius on the 9th. On the 17th it will be within 20 arc-minutes of lambda Sgr, mag 2.8 and on the 23rd less than a degree from Nunki, sigma Sgr. At magnitude 2.1, Nunki is the brightest star in the handle of the “teapot”.

At the beginning of November, Venus will be a few degrees above Saturn. The crescent moon joins the pair on the 3rd. The moon will be at about the same altitude as Saturn, with Venus some 5 degrees above them.

Mars will be higher than Venus in the evening sky setting just before 2 am on the 1st and just after 1 am on the 30th. The planet starts November in Sagittarius, close to the position Venus will occupy at the end of the month. During November, Mars will move into Capricornus on the 8th and be well across the constellation by the 30th.

Mars dims slightly during November, from magnitude 0.4 to 0.6 as the Earth moves further from the plant. On the 6th, the moon, as a thick crescent, will be 6 degrees below Mars.

Saturn will remain in Ophiuchus all month. At the beginning of November it will set nearly 3 hours after the Sun, so remaining easily visible with an altitude of 18 degrees at the end of nautical twilight. By the end of November, Saturn will set 37 minutes after the Sun, only 6 minutes after the end of civil twilight, so making it very difficult to see.

Jupiter is the only one of the naked eye planets in the November morning sky. It rises an hour before the Sun on the 1st, 2 hours and 20 minutes before it on the 30th. The planet is in Virgo all month, by the end of November it will be 8 degrees from Spica, at mag 1.1 the brightest star in the constellation.

On the morning of the 25th the crescent moon will be 5.5 deg to the left of Jupiter. The following morning th moon, showing a rather thinner crescent, will be 6.5 degrees from Spica.

Outer Planets

Uranus, at magnitude 5.7, remains in Pisces and is observable all evening. By the 30th Uranus will set 2 hours before sunrise. On the evening of the 12 the near full moon will be 2 degrees above the planet.

Neptune is in Aquarius at magnitude 7.9 throughout November. It sets about 4 am on the 1st, and 2 am by the end of November. On the night of November 9/10 the planet will be occulted by the moon an event visible from most of Scandinavia and a large part of Russia. From NZ the moon will be 2 degrees below Neptune as seen in the early morning sky of the 10th.

Pluto at magnitude 14.4 to 14.5 continues in Sagittarius as an early evening object, setting about 1 am on the 1st and 11.15 pm on the 30th. On November 5 the crescent moon will be 3.5 degrees from Pluto, with the planet itself half the moon’s diameter from the 3.7 magnitude star omega Sgr.

Minor Planets

(1) Ceres is in Cetus during November with its magnitude fading from 7.6 to 8.1. Ceres is about 11 degrees from Uranus and, on the 12th, 10 degrees from the moon.

(18) Melpomene is also in Cetus between 7 and 8 degrees from Ceres. The asteroid, diameter 148 km, fades from magnitude 8.1 to 8.8 during November. Melpomene is on the opposite side of Ceres to Uranus.

Both Ceres and Melpomene are visible all evening not setting until well after midnight.

(4) Vesta is in Cancer throughout November rising about 2am on the 1st and shortly after midnight on the 30th. Its magnitude brightens from 7.9 to 7.4 during the month. Vesta’s path in Cancer will take it towards M44, the Beehive cluster. On the 30th it will be 2 degrees from M44 but it is then stationary. Subsequently it will move away again from the cluster during December.

Brian Loader  
New Zealand

The Solar System In October 2016

Dates and times shown are NZDT (UT + 13 hours).

Rise and set times are for Wellington. They will vary by a few minutes elsewhere in NZ.

Sunrise, sunset and twilight times in October

                            October  1  NZDT               October 30  NZDT
                    morning  evening                 morning  evening
       SUN: rise:   6.52am,  set:  7.28pm    rise:   6.06am,  set:  8.03pm
Twilights
  Civil:    starts: 6.27am,  ends: 7.55pm    starts: 5.39am,  ends: 8.31pm
  Nautical: starts: 5.55am,  ends: 8.27pm    starts: 5.03am,  ends: 9.07pm
  Astro:    starts: 5.21am,  ends: 9.01pm    starts: 4.24am,  ends: 9.46pm

October phases of the moon (times as shown by guide)

          New moon:      October  1 at  1.11 pm (00:11 UT)
  First quarter: October  9 at  5.33 pm (04:33 UT)
  Full moon:     October 16 at  5.23 pm (04:23 UT)
  Last quarter   October 23 at  8.14 am (Oct 22, 19:14 UT)
  New moon:      October 31 at  6.38 am (Oct 30, 17:38 UT)

The planets in October 2016

Mercury is too close to the Sun for observation throughout October as is Jupiter for most of the month. Venus climbs a little further into the evening sky and passes Saturn. Mars remains well placed in the evening sky.

Mercury starts October as a morning object but rises only 24 minutes before the Sun. During the rest of October it gets closer to the Sun until at superior conjunction on the 28th. The planet will then be 214 million km from the Earth (1.43 AU) and some 65 million km beyond the Sun. By the end of October Mercury, nominally an evening object, will set about 10 minutes after then Sun

Venus becomes even more prominent in the evening sky in October. It sets two hours and forty after the Sun on the 1st increasing to three and a quarter hours later on the 31st, that is after 11 pm. The planet starts the month in Libra, moves into Scorpius on the 18th and on into Ophiuchus on the 25th. A night later Venus will be 3° from Antares. On the 30th it will be 3° from Saturn. Its path in Ophiuchus takes it about midway between Antares and Saturn with the three virtually in line on the evening of the 28th.

Much earlier in the month, a thin crescent moon is 7° from Venus on the evening of October 4.

Mars remains an evening object in Sagittarius during October setting about 2 am by the end of the month. It slowly dims a little during the month as the Earth pulls away from the planet

On the 7th Mars will be only 12 arc minutes from the star lambda Sgr, magnitude 2.8, that is less than half the diameter of the full moon. Later, in mid October Mars will be just over a degree from Nunki, at magnitude 2.1 the brightest star in the "handle" of the "teapot". The moon, a little short of first quarter, is 8° from Mars on the 8th.

Jupiter was at conjunction with the Sun on September 26. Consequently it has moved into the dawn sky but is too close to the Sun for observation for most of October. By the 31st it rises about an hour earlier than the Sun, and May be visible very low to the east half an hour before sunrise.

Saturn remains in Ophiuchus during October, a few degrees to the right of Antares as seen in the mid evening sky. By the end of October Saturn sets about 11 pm. The crescent moon will be at its closest to Saturn for the month, 4° to the right of, and slightly lower than, the planet. Towards the end of the month Saturn is passed by Venus.

Outer Planets

Uranus, at magnitude 5.7, is in Pisces. It is at opposition on October 15, so in the sky all night. It is then just under 19 AU, 2835 million km, from the Earth and one more astronomical unit from the Sun.

Neptune is in Aquarius at magnitude 7.8 to 7.9. By the end of October it will set about 4 am. An occultation of Neptune by the moon on October 13 is visible from the extreme east of Siberia, Alaska and northwest Canada.

Pluto at magnitude 14.4 is also in the evening sky during October setting after midnight. The planet remains in Sagittarius, by the end of the month it will be about 15 arc-minutes from the magnitude 3.7 star omega Sgr. Mars' path will take it past Pluto during October. The two are closest on the 19th with Mars 3.3° from Pluto.

Minor Planets

(1) Ceres is in Cetus during October and is at opposition on October 25. Its magnitude will then be 7.4.

(18) Melpomene is also in Cetus about 7° from Ceres. Melpomene is at opposition with a magnitude 8.0, a few days after Ceres.

(4) Vesta starts October as a morning object in Gemini 8° from the 1.2 magnitude star Pollux. It crosses into Cancer on the 10th. By the end of the month its magnitude will be 7.9. It will then rise about 2 am.

(11) Parthenope reaches a magnitude 9.2 when at opposition at the beginning of October. It is then in Cetus but moves on into Pisces on the 11th. Parthenope fades quite rapidly following opposition to 10.0 by the end of the month.

Brian Loader  
New Zealand