October’s Hunter’s Moon event put up an awesome show and this month’s supermoon event will be an equally stunning one considering that the moon will appear 7 per cent larger than normal.
This is because our natural satellite will be at its closest to Earth since 1948 on November 14 and this particular celestial event is also referred to as the frost moon by North American natives. The moon will appear full just two and a half hours after its closest approach (perigee) to Earth and that’s in the early hours on November 14.
The run up to the supermoon event will be exciting as well considering that we have the Leonid meteor shower that will be visible starting the first week of November and peak on November 17. However, the meteor shower won’t be an awesome show because the waning, gibbous moon (90 per cent lit) will be up high in the sky all night, and its brightness will effectively overshadow all those sparkling meteors.
The Lionid meteor shower will be visible throughout November starting November 6 till 30, and once the brightness of the moon starts fading, you will able to view the meteor shower across the night sky towards the end of November.
Beyond the meteor shower, there is planetary show as well. Starting November, Venus will be seen shining brightly about a hand’s width (at arm’s length) above the SW horizon just after sunset. You won’t have a whole lot of time on your hands to catch a glimpse of Venus because it will be available only for a couple of hours each evening. However, Saturn will start appearing as darkness takes over. Unless you have clear skies, you won’t be able to catch a glimpse of Saturn through the naked eye and so use of binoculars is advised.
You will be able to see both Venus and Saturn on the evening of November 3 in the SW sky about 30 minutes after sunset, with the crescent moon to the upper left of Venus. As November progresses, Venus will climb higher in the evening sky, while Saturn slowly disappears into the bright twilight of early evening.
Mars will also be visible in the SW sky shortly after the sky darkens, with the best views coming after twilight ends. But Mars is at a greater distance from us currently and for this reasons it will be dim even through binoculars or a set of small scopes. On the evenings of November 5 and 6, the waxing crescent moon appears near Mars.
Mercury will also join the planetary party, but not until end of November. If you want to catch of glimpse of Mercury, it will appear just above the SW horizon about 30 minutes after sunset on November 30. To spot it, look for the slim, crescent of the one-day-old moon sitting to the right of Mercury.
Jupiter will also be visible, but in the mornings this month. You will be able to see it rising in the ESE about two and a half hours before the sun. By the end of the month, Jupiter will appear about 2:30 a.m. At mid-month, look for Jupiter above the ESE horizon, with the bright stars Arcturus to it’s left and Spica just below it.