Sky Notes for November 2013 with James Abbott #stargazing

The Taurid meteors are active throughout November with the best chances of seeing them being in the first half of the month. The Taurids are associated with Comet Encke, which was the second comet to be numbered after the much more famous Comet Halley.

The Taurids are not one of the more active showers, but they can be seen at a reasonable time of the evening and are noticeably slow and often coloured. As their name suggests they originate from Taurus which is rising in the East throughout the evenings of early November, reaching an altitude of about 30 degrees by 9pm GMT. This year the chances of seeing Taurids are boosted by the Moon being New on November 3rd so moonlight will not interfere at least for the first week of the month.

Image: Astrocal

That New Moon will pass in front of the Sun causing a solar eclipse on November 3rd but the edge of the shadow misses the UK. From Southern Europe there will be a partial eclipse.

Jupiter continues to improve through November and by the last week of the month is over 30 degrees in altitude in the East by 11pm GMT and a brilliant mag -2.6. On the night of the 21st/22nd the waning gibbous Moon is close by. Once the Moon is out of the evening sky at the end of November all of the bright winter constellations will be observable in a dark sky and at a reasonable hour with Sirius rising in the South East after 10pm.


Full Moon is on November 17th, now shining down from nearly 60 degrees in altitude when in the South.

Venus remains rather elusive due to its large Southerly declination but is visible if the skies are clear, low down in the South West in evening twilight throughout the month. On the 6th the young crescent Moon will be nearby.

Speculation is mounting about Comet ISON (2012 S1), which some, probably unwisely, have predicted could be the “Comet of the Century”. Such predictions about comets have come to grief many times previously. It is possible that it may be bright enough to see in binoculars before dawn in the middle of November low down in the South East. Currently though it is only brightening slowly and at best could become a fairly bright object visible to the unaided eye in early to mid December following a very close swing around the Sun at the end of November.

The comet nucleus is believed to be about 2km across. It will pass within one solar diameter of the surface of the Sun – resulting in a roasting which will rapidly release gas and dust from the nucleus as its ices boil off into space – and hopefully to form prominent tails.

For early risers November will be a bumper month for comets. As well as ISON we have three other comets in range of binoculars. The best placed is Comet Lovejoy (2013 R1), which will be high enough to observe from about 1am in the East. 2P/Enke is low pre dawn, also in the East, with LINEAR (2012 X1) in the same area of the sky near Arcturus. 2012 X1 has undergone an outburst similar to that seen in 17P/Holmes in 2007. Nick James secured these images from Chelmsford:

 For full details of this autumn’s comets visit


James Abbott is an astronomer, NEAS member and CfDS Regional Information Officer.

You can download a free map of the evening sky here:


Posted on 8 November, 2013, in Astronomy News, Observing News, Popular Science, Stargazing and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Sky Notes for November 2013 with James Abbott #stargazing.

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