November new moon 2021: See Uranus at opposition and other bright planets in the moonless night sky: Times Of Nation
The new moon occurs on Thursday (Nov. 4), at 5:14 p.m. EDT (2114 GMT), a day before reaching perigee, the closest point in its orbit to Earth, according to NASA.
While the moon isn’t visible in the night sky at new phase, the dark, moonless sky will provide a great opportunity to see stars and planets — and possibly even the dim planet Uranus, which will be closest to Earth and shining at its brightest. On the night of the new moon, Uranus will reach opposition, or the point in its orbit where it is directly opposite the sun in Earth’s sky and fully illuminated, “effectively a ‘full’ Uranus,” NASA said in a statement.
“Although Uranus is not considered a visible planet, at opposition it is bright enough to be visible for someone with excellent eyesight under very dark skies and ideal conditions,” NASA added. “If you know where to look, it should be visible with binoculars or a backyard telescope.”
Related: The brightest planets in November’s night sky: How to see them
New moons occur when the moon is directly between the sun and Earth. About every 29.5 days the two bodies are lined up in the sky along the same line of celestial longitude. Celestial longitude is a projection of the Earth’s longitude lines on the celestial sphere; when two bodes share the same longitude that is called a conjunction. If one draws a line from Polaris, the North Star due south toward the sun, that line also hits the moon.
Usually we see the illuminated side of the moon, but one can’t see a new moon unless it passes directly in front of the sun, creating a solar eclipse. This new moon won’t be creating any eclipses — that will have to wait for Dec. 4, when the only total solar eclipse of the year will be visible from the very southernmost latitudes of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and Antarctica.
The moon will reach perigee a day after the new moon, shortly after 6 p.m. EDT (2200 GMT) on Nov. 5. The moon is an average distance of 238,855 miles (382,500 kilometers) from the Earth, but the orbit of the moon isn’t a perfect circle. On Nov. 5 the moon will be only 222,976 miles (358,845 km) from Earth, according to the skywatching site AstroPixels.com.
On the night of the November new moon, the sun sets in New York City at 5:48 p.m. local time, and Venus will be in the southwestern sky — by 6:30 p.m. it will be about 13 degrees above the horizon and bright enough that it is one of the very first celestial objects to become visible in the evening. The planet is in the constellation Sagittarius, the archer, and won’t set until 8:10 p.m.
In the Southern Hemisphere, the situation is a bit different; the sun sets at 7:58 p.m. in Melbourne, Australia, on Nov. 5 — the new moon happens at 8:14 a.m. local time that day. Venus will be 42 degrees above the western horizon and sets in Melbourne at 11:53 p.m. local time, according to the skywatching site Heavens-Above.com.
The moon and Venus will meet on Nov. 8, and for observers in Japan, the Korean peninsula and eastern Russia there will be an occultation, when the moon passes in front of the planet, according to skywatching site In-the-Sky.org. The occultation will be during the day; from Tokyo, the moon will appear to pass in front of Venus at 1:47 p.m. Japan Standard Time, and Venus will reappear from behind the moon at 2:40 p.m.
Since this event will be in daylight and the moon will only be a few days old, it is important to use extreme caution; pointing a telescope near the sun and looking through it can cause permanent eye damage and even blindness. In other regions, the moon will appear to pass very close to the planet Venus and the two will be in conjunction.
Back in the mid-northern latitudes, on the evening of Nov. 4, as one turns east (to the left) of Venus, the first bright planet encountered is Saturn, which from New York City sets at 11:26 p.m. Just after sunset the planet will be almost due south, in the constellation Capricornus, the sea goat and about 30 degrees in altitude.
Farther east is Jupiter, which will be brighter than Saturn and slightly higher, about 32 degrees, and also in Capricornus. The two planets will be among the first “stars” that become visible after Venus.
As with Venus, those in southern latitudes will see planets much higher; observers in Melbourne at about 8 p.m. will see Venus, and then Jupiter and Saturn in the Northwest, both at altitudes of about 67 degrees. Looking to the right (north) from Venus, one will see Jupiter first, and then Saturn. Saturn sets first, at 2:06 a.m. local time, and Jupiter follows at 2:49 a.m.
Stars and constellations
November is when the winter constellations of the Northern Hemisphere become more prominent in the late evening and early morning hours; it’s the time of year when Orion, Taurus and Gemini, to name three, are visible essentially all night long.
By 8 p.m. in mid-northern latitudes in the northeast one can see Capella, the brightest star in the constellation Auriga, the charioteer, close to the horizon but getting higher each day. Just south of Auriga is Taurus, the bull, and from a dark sky location one can see the Pleiades star cluster, aka the Seven Sisters making a rough triangle with the stars Capella and Aldebaran.
Above Auriga is Perseus, the legendary hero. By 10:30 p.m. Orion’s belt is above the horizon and one can see the three stars — Alnilam, Alnitak, and Mintaka, going from east to west. The Gemini constellation has also risen fully above the horizon by then, and at about midnight Canis Major, the Big Dog, which contains the brightest star in the sky, Sirius, is rising.
In the Southern Hemisphere, skywatchers will see the nights getting shorter — November is late spring there. In Melbourne the sun sets at 7:58 p.m., and near the northwestern horizon one will see Aquila, the eagle, containing the bright star Altair, setting, turning south (left) you can see an “upside down” Scorpius, the scorpion moving towards the horizon as well. From Melbourne, low in the southwest, one will see Alpha Centauri and the Southern Cross constellation, the latter pointed “down” towards the horizon.
Towards the eastern half of the sky, one of the three constellations that make up the ship, Carina, will be rising by 9 p.m., along with Canopus, its brightest star. Much higher — about 54 degrees up in the southeast — is Achernar, which marks the end of Eridanus, the river. Northern skywatchers see the start of the river near the feet of Orion — which rises by about 10:30 p.m. By that time the other two parts of the ship, Puppis, and Vela, are rising as well.
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