The Planets for November 2014
November is not a good month to observe the inner planet. It reaches its greatest angular distance from the Sun on the 1st of the month and because of the sharp angle of the ecliptic to the early morning eastern horizon it will always be lost in the glare of the morning twilight rising only 45 minutes before the Sun.
Returning to the western sky this month however will be too close to the sun at least until the end of the month when it will be setting only 40 minutes later than the Sun. The opportunity to get a glimpse of Venus improves in December.
Vernal equinox on the 23rd of the month.
The red planet meets up with some impressive objects this month as it makes its way through the very busy star fields of Sagittarius. On the 3rd it passes
0.2 degrees from the globular cluster M28 and three days later on the 6th is less than
1 degree from the magnificent globular cluster M22. Mars will be setting just before midnight for the entire month and on the 26th the four day old waxing crescent Moon passes
7 degrees to the north of the planet.
Rising at 2:30am at the beginning of the month, Jupiter continues its slow passage deeper into the constellation of Leo-The Lion. Even a small telescope will reveal the four Galilean Moons, Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto and it is worth observing their changing positions from night to night. By the end of the month it will be rising around 12:40am. The last quarter Moon lies
5 degrees to the south of Jupiter on the 15th.
The ringed planet will be on the opposite side of the Sun to the Earth on the 18th and lost from view until it joins the eastern morning sky next month.
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The Planets for December 2014
Returning to the western evening twilight sky after superior conjunction with the Sun on the 8th, Mercury will be hard to spot until the end of the month. On the last day of the year the inner most planet lies less than
4 degrees to the west of the brightly shining Venus. An extremely thin crescent Moon will be a few degrees to the north of the pair on the 23rd of the month.
Low in the western evening twilight sky the “Evening Star” sets less than an hour later than the Sun at the beginning of December and 67 minutes after the Sun by the end of the month. It will get easier to observe over the coming months, setting later than the Sun as each day passes. The thin crescent of the waxing Moon will be nearby on the 23rd of the month.
The Sun reaches its most southerly position in the sky on the 22nd when the southern hemisphere experiences its longest day and its shortest night.
The red planet is also in the western evening sky this month and moves from Sagittarius into Capricornus on the 5th passing the faint globular star cluster, M75 as it does so. It is now a very poor object telescopically as it distance from the earth this month is roughly 283,000,000 km. The evening of Christmas day sees the four day old crescent Moon
6 degrees to the north west of Mars.
On the 1st of December Jupiter rises above the eastern horizon at 12:40 am but by the end of the month will be rising a full two hours earlier. It can be located in the constellation of Leo-The Lion and on the 1st sits
7.5 degrees to the north west of Regulus, Leo’s brightest star. This position in relation to Regulus begins to change on the 9th when Jupiter ceases its eastward motion against the starry background and starts its period of retrograde making it appear to move westward in relation to the stars as viewed from the Earth. The distance between Jupiter and Regulus increases to
by the month’s end. The waning gibbous Moon lies a few degrees to the south of Jupiter on the 12th.ce.
Not worth looking for early in December as Saturn rises only thirty minutes before the Sun as December begins. By the end of the month however it is worth the effort to get out of bed early to catch a glimpse of this magnificent object as by then will enter the morning twilight over two hours before the Sun. On the 20th the 28 day old waning crescent Moon lies
to the north of the ringed planet.
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