Winter constellations and a Blood Moon rise in November
Cool weather brings some of the best views of the year, and a late Blood Moon.
November night skies are action filled this year.
A full moon will shine brightly on Nov. 8, 2022. It’s arguably best known as the “Beaver Moon.” It’s also known as the Frosty Moon and the Dark Moon, among others. The Beaver Moon of 2022 is extra special because it’ll also be a Blood Moon, otherwise known as a total lunar eclipse. It will be the second Blood Moon in 2022. It’ll be an early morning pre-twilight show you won’t want to miss.
All month long, three seasons of stargazing are featured in the early evening sky in November.
We still have a handful of summer constellations hanging out in the western sky, but this is their last stand. We won’t see them for too much longer because as our Earth orbits the sun we’re turning away from that part of space. Among the brighter summer constellations left are Cygnus the Swan, Lyra the Harp, and Aquila the Eagle. One of the fainter ones is Delphinus the Dolphin. It’s always been a favorite of mine. It’s composed of a small diamond of four faint stars depicting the body of the Dolphin, plus a single star below and a little to the left of the diamond marking the tail.
In the south-southeastern sky is one of the prime autumn constellations, Pegasus the Winged Horse, with Andromeda the Princess tagging along. Turn around to face north, and you’ll see old friends like the Big Dipper, barely above the horizon or even below the horizon, depending on where you are. Above it, the Little Dipper hangs by its tail higher in the northern sky by its handle. Cassiopeia the Queen, the constellation that looks like a giant, nearly upside-down W, proudly shows off her stuff in the high northeast sky.
In the eastern skies, especially in the last half of November, the first of the winter constellations are making their debut. The constellation Taurus the Bull, which resembles a little arrow pointing to the right, is on the rise. Just above Taurus is the bright star cluster, the Pleiades, also known as the Seven Sisters. Also rising in the northeast is the bright star Capella, the brightest in the constellation Auriga the Charioteer. Around 9 p.m., the great winter constellation Orion the Hunter emerges from his slumber.
Jupiter and Saturn are still holding court in the early evening southern sky. This month, they’re joined by Mars, rising in the very low east-northeast sky after twilight. Mars has been getting much brighter in the last few months as it draws closer to Earth. In early December, Mars reaches its closest approach, a little over 50 million miles away. Jupiter is the brightest of the three planets, with Mars in second place.
Jupiter and Saturn are also great through even a small telescope this month. With Jupiter, you can easily see up to four of its largest moons appearing as tiny “stars” that constantly change their positions relative to Jupiter and each other. You’ll probably also see some of the larger cloud bands that stripe the largest planet in our solar system. Saturn and its vast ring system are always lovely through a backyard telescope, and you may also spot some of Saturn’s moons, especially Titan, its largest satellite.
Enjoy the star-filled, longer nights of November, and stay warm.
Mike Lynch is an amateur astronomer and professional broadcast meteorologist for WCCO Radio in Minneapolis/St. Paul and is author of the book, “Stars, a Month by Month Tour of the Constellations” published by Adventure Publications. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org .
The Rochester Astronomy Club welcomes new members and puts on public star parties. Their website is rochesterskies.org .