With November, we take steps closer to the solstice. In the northern hemisphere, winter approaches in earnest; in the southern, the sun is welcomed back and temperatures continue to rise. The November night sky this month is also a time of astronomical activity, with active meteor showers, planetary close approaches, and even a few extra astronomical events we don’t get every month.
Hopefully, the skies will be clear and dark for you to enjoy at least one, or to get out for one of these other astronomical events happening in the November night sky.
If you need a telescope to help enjoy this month’s night sky events, we have a guide to the best stargazing telescopes and binoculars. On that page you’ll find resources on how to find a good piece of astronomical equipment that fits your budget and helps unlock the wonders of the November night sky.
This post was originally published in October 2018, and was updated most recently in October 2023.
November 3 – Jupiter at Opposition
Love looking at our solar system’s biggest planet? Kick off November with a Jupiter viewing session!
On the night of November 3rd, Jupiter will be at its annual opposition; this is the point where it’s brightly illuminated by the Sun given our (the Earth’s) relative position between the two. While most people might not be able to spot any difference in brightness or clarity on the night of opposition vs any other night of the year, eagle-eyed astronomers of any training can certainly do so; a telescope or binoculars will help even more.
Look for Jupiter in the constellation Aires; if you’re having a particularly good night out with your equipment, Uranus won’t be far away and reaches its own opposition on the 13th. (I didn’t include it on this list, but it’s another astronomy event in the November night sky!)
November 5 – Asteroid 18 Melpomene at Opposition
If you’ve got a telescope and are eager to use it this month, why not set it up for a bit of asteroid-gazing early in November. There aren’t as many asteroids well-placed for viewing this month as there have been in past months (or even in Novembers past), but there is one good opportunity – assuming your skies are clear.
Originally discovered over 170 years ago, Asteroid 18 Melpomene – currently in the constellation Eridanus – will reach opposition on the night of November 5th and will be high in the sky throughout much of the night (based on your latitude). This means that it will be more brightly illuminated by the sun that during other times of the year, and it’s the best opportunity to view this solar system object comprised silicates and metals.
November 9 – Lunar Occultation/Close Approach of the Moon & Venus
November 9th is perhaps the most exciting night for astronomy this month, if you happen to live in Europe or Northern Africa. On this night, viewers in those locations will have an opportunity to see a “lunar occultation” of Venus – that is, the Moon passing in front of Venus – assuming skies are clear. Beautifully, the moon will be a sliver of waning crescent shape, too.
For the rest of us, we’ll get to enjoy a close approach between the two members of our solar system: the closest will actually be in the pre-dawn hours for western hemisphere viewers.
November 12 – Peak of the Northern Taurids Meteor Shower
On the night of November 12th, head outside to try and spot the Northern Taurids meteors as this shower peaks in activity on the 12th. The Taurids run from approximately October 20th to November 30th. On the night of peak activity, you can spot up to 10 meteors per hour. Best of all, the Moon will be completely in its new phase, and 0% illuminated – no light interference tonight!
Look for the Taurids radiant point in the constellation of Taurus. For most people, it will be in the eastern or southern sky depending on your location. Keep your eyes peeled in the general direction of Taurus, but look around that area of the night sky to spot meteors with longer tails.
November 18 – The Pleiades Cluster is Well-Placed for Viewing
The Pleiades are one of the most easily recognizable features in the northern night sky – it’s even visible far below the equator, making it one of the most well-known deep space objects in the world. (The Māori people of New Zealand mark the new year with the rising of Matariki, their name for the Pleiades!)
In any case, if you want to really enjoy a night of viewing the Pleiades, November 18th is a great one: on this night, the open star cluster will appear high in the sky around midnight local time, so assuming your skies are clear, you’ll have a great chance to use your eyes, a telescope, or binoculars to gaze deep into space.
Best of all, this is the same night as the peak of the Leonids meteor shower, so you have more than one reason to bundle up and head out under the stars…
November 18 – Peak of the Leonids Meteor Shower
As the end of the calendar year gets closer, there are more meteor showers to enjoy! Why? That’s just how our orbit works, as we cross the debris paths of comets and asteroids during our celestial dance.
The Leonids meteor shower occurs in the November night sky for most of the month, but the night of peak activity is November 18th this year. If you’re out this night, look for up to 15 meteors per hour depending on your location. It’s also possible to see Leonids each night between November 15th and 20th.
The Leonids appear from a radiant point in the constellation Leo, which will be in the northeastern sky for most people. If you can spot the Big Dipper/Plough, you’re in the right part of the sky to spot some shooting stars.
Looking for more details about how to see the Leonids? I’ve got you covered with this guide to spotting Leonids meteors in 2023.
November 20 – Close Approach of the Moon & Saturn
It still boggles my mind how “far” apart Saturn and Jupiter have moved from one another in the almost three years since the Great Conjunction of the two gas giants back in 2020. Each time I add this pair of night sky events (sometimes separated by other astronomy events!), I realize how much the celestial dance marches on year after year!
In any case, November ends with a chance to view both Saturn and Jupiter in close proximity to the Moon; Saturn is first up on the night of November 20th. At their closest, the pair will appear 2°29′ though most viewers will see them a bit further apart as the “closest” approach occurs during daylight hours for most of the globe.
November 25 – Close Approach of the Moon & Jupiter
Following on that, you can head out again after American Thanksgiving to try and spot Jupiter and the Moon near one another in the sky.
On November 25th, the pair will appear 2°31′ apart in the pre-dawn hours; they may be difficult to spot at their closest depending on your latitude (for me in Cleveland, they’ll be very close to the western horizon before sunrise).
November 28 – Peak of the November Orionids Meteor Shower
Everyone gets excited about the October Orionids – did you know there’s another Orionids shower in November? While it runs from November 13th to December 6th, the shower is expected to have peak activity on the night of November 28th. This isn’t a particularly active shower (like the October Orionids or any others this month) and the maximum ZHR is expected to be 3 per hour.
To spot these meteors, look in the general area of the constellation Orion. You don’t need to look right at the radiant point to spot them; instead sweep your eyes through that area of the sky.
November 28 – The Hyades Cluster is Well-Placed for Viewing
The Hyades cluster is actually closer to the sun than the Pleiades – but most people probably couldn’t point to it in the sky anywhere near as easily. Located in the constellation Taurus very near the star Aldebaran, the Hyades are only 153 light-years from our system’s dominant star, and offer a bit more of a challenge to enjoy.
Head out on the night of November 28th and look high in the sky around midnight local time; this is a great finale if you’ve been out trying to spot Northern Orionids.
Have other questions about these astronomical events in the November night sky or how to see them? Let me know in the comments!