Some daily events in the changing sky for November 2 – 10.
Weird Comet Holmes is still an easy naked-eye sight. The comet has enlarged from a "star" to a fuzzpatch without losing any of its brightness. It's easy to find in Perseus in the evening sky. This is an extraordinary event not to miss! See our finder charts, full story, and reader photos.
Friday, November 2
Saturday, November 3
Sunday, November 4
Monday, November 5
Tuesday, November 6
Wednesday, November 7
Thursday, November 8
Friday, November 9
Saturday, November 10
Want to become a better amateur astronomer? Learn your way around the constellations. They're the key to locating everything fainter and deeper to hunt with binoculars or a telescope. For an easy-to-use constellation guide covering the whole evening sky, use the big monthly foldout map in each issue of Sky & Telescope, the essential magazine of astronomy. Or download our free Getting Started in Astronomy booklet (which only has bimonthly maps).
Once you get a telescope, to put it to good use you'll need a detailed, large-scale sky atlas (set of maps; the standard is Sky Atlas 2000.0) and good deep-sky guidebooks (such as Sky Atlas 2000.0 Companion by Strong and Sinnott, the even more detailed Night Sky Observer's Guide by Kepple and Sanner, or the enchanting though increasingly dated Burnham's Celestial Handbook). Read how to use them effectively.
More beginners' tips: "How to Start Right in Astronomy".
This Week's Planet Roundup
Mercury is low in the sunrise, brightening from magnitude +0.5 to –0.5 this week. Look for it about 45 minutes before sunup just above the east-southeast horizon, very far lower left of bright Venus. Fainter Spica twinkles to Mercury's right.
To find your local sunrise time (and much else), make sure you've put your location into our online almanac. If you're off daylight saving time, make sure the Daylight Saving Time box is unchecked.
Venus (magnitude –4.5, in eastern Leo) blazes in the east-southeast before and during dawn. A telescope shows that Venus is about at dichotomy, its half-lit phase.
Mars (magnitude –0.7, in Gemini) now rises as early as 9 p.m. daylight saving time. It shines very high toward the south before dawn — near the zenith, in fact, for mid-northern observers.
In a telescope, Mars appears 12 or 13 arcseconds in diameter. It will reach 15.9" diameter around its Christmas-season opposition. The Martian dust storms of July and August have abated, and while the planet's atmosphere is still bright and hazy with dust, surface features are showing through better. But they're still low-contrast.
Jupiter (magnitude –1.9, in southern Ophiuchus) is sinking low in the southwest in twilight. It sets soon after dark.
Saturn (magnitude +0.8) rises well after midnight and is very high to Venus's upper right before and during dawn. Fainter Regulus (magnitude +1.4) is 7° upper right of Saturn.
Uranus (magnitude 5.8, in Aquarius) and Neptune (magnitude 7.9, in Capricornus) are well placed in the south early in the evening. Finder charts for them are in the July Sky & Telescope, page 60, and online. With a big scope you can shoot for their faint moons! See the October Sky & Telescope, page 69.
Pluto is lost in the sunset.
All descriptions that relate to your horizon or zenith — including the words up, down, right, and left — are written for the world's midnorthern latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude (mainly Moon positions) are for North America. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) equals Universal Time (UT, UTC, or GMT) minus 4 hours. Eastern Standard Time (EST) is UT minus 5 hours.
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