All the planets will be visible in the night sky of November. Two of them are gearing up for rare conjunction after 19.6 years. Here is how you can watch the planet parade of the penultimate month of 2020.
To know about the top astronomy events in November 2020, watch the video below:
The tiniest planet of the solar system will reach its highest point in the morning sky on November 10. A couple of days before that, it will be at its dichotomy. This means that Mercury will be half-lit as seen from the Earth. A dichotomy takes place when an inferior planet is at its greatest elongation east/west.
You have to be an early bird to spot Mercury. On November 10, depending on your location, the planet will rise to an altitude of around 18 degrees above the horizon. This is the time when it will be at its greatest separation from the Sun. In the coming couple of months, Mercury’s altitude will drop, and on December 20, Mercury will pass behind the Sun, becoming completely inaccessible from the Earth.
Mercury shines brightly at a magnitude of -0.6 in Virgo. Never attempt to point your binoculars/telescopes at Mercury. Because of its proximity to the Sun, you may damage your eyes.
Venus remains just about visible as a morning object, now well past greatest elongation west and returning closer to the Sun. It rises about a couple of hours before the Sun and ultimately fades from view as dawn breaks. Venus is the brightest planet in the night sky. At mag -4.0, it is the brightest object after the Moon.
On November 13, the Moon and Venus will pass close to each other. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.
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Having made its closest approach to the Earth in October, Mars is quickly losing its glory. At its closest approach, the red planet was at a magnitude of -2.6, brighter than Sirius and Jupiter. But now, after about weeks, its magnitude is -2.14. But it still rules the night sky with its dazzling red hue.
Mars is well up in the sky around midnight in the constellation of Pisces. On November 26, the 10-day old Moon will pass close to Mars. By then, Mars would have faded to a magnitude of -1.3.
Jupiter And Saturn
It has been four months since Jupiter and Saturn made their closest approach to the Earth. The gas giants shine brightly in the south-west after sunset. The brighter of the two is Jupiter. On November 19, the Moon will pass close to the duo.
Jupiter and Saturn are getting closer and closer. On December 21, they will be less than a degree apart – an event known as the great conjunction that takes place every 19.6 years on average. The 2001 conjunction took place when the two planets were close to the Sun. Hence, the conjunction wasn’t visible. So we’ll witness this rare event after about 38 years! You can read more about this upcoming celestial event in this article.
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Uranus, the Earth, and the Sun lined up on Halloween with the Earth in the middle – an event known as the opposition. The opposition is the best time to watch a planet. It lies opposite the Sun and rises from the east at sunset. It then reaches the highest point in the sky at midnight and is lost to the morning twilight.
Uranus, in Aries, shines at a magnitude of +5.8 making it invisible to the naked eyes.
The last planet of our solar system made its closest approach to the Earth in September. Neptune is high up in the sky around midnight, in the constellation of Aquarius. At a magnitude of 7.82, it is not visible to the naked eye.