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Mercury

Mercury reaches greatest elongation west on November 1st. On this day the planet is located 19 degrees from the Sun and consequently well placed as an early morning object for observers at northern temperate and tropics latitudes. This also happens to be the most favourable morning apparition of the year from the Northern Hemisphere.

For example, from latitude 52N (e.g. London, England) Mercury will start the month 11 degrees above the east-southeast horizon at 40 minutes before sunrise. Shining at magnitude -0.6 it will be possible to spot the planet for a short time as it rises before it's finally lost to the bright twilight glare. The planet appears slightly lower down each subsequent morning - although at the same time marginally increasing in brightness - until about the third week of the month when it will be no longer visible.

From the southern hemisphere, the angle of the ecliptic is unfavourable and therefore Mercury is unsuitably placed for observation this month.

MESSENGER spacecraft image of Mercury's southern hemisphere (NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington)

Venus

Venus (mag. -3.9) passed through superior conjunction on October 25th. During November the planet remains unsuitably placed for observation except for observers at tropical locations who should be able to glimpse it after sunset at the very end of the month. Venus will appear low down above the southwestern horizon just before setting.

Mars

Mars continues to keep pace ahead of the Sun in the early evening sky. The planet spends November moving direct through Sagittarius decreasing slightly in brightness from mag. +0.9 to +1.0 as the month progresses. To the eye, Mars appears as an inconspicuous star that sets about 3.5 hours after the Sun from southern latitudes but an hour or so less for those located further north.

On November 26th, the waxing crescent Moon passes 7 degrees north of Mars.

Mars during November 2014

Mars during November 2014 - pdf format

Jupiter

Jupiter is now a brilliant object amongst the stars of Leo. The "King of the planets" rises after midnight at the start of the month from northern temperate latitudes, improving to before midnight by months end. For locations much further south, Jupiter rises about an hour later. The giant planet is unmistakable, dominates the morning sky and remains visible until dawn.

During November, Jupiter brightens from magnitude -2.1 to -2.2 with its apparent size increasing from 36 to 40 arc seconds. A pair of 7x50 or 10x50 binoculars reveal a small disk that appears off-white in colour. Also easily visible are the four large Galilean moons, Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto, which constantly change position as they orbit the planet. Sometimes all four are visible at once but often moons will be temporarily obstructed and hidden from view as they pass behind or in front of Jupiter's disk.

Jupiter as seen by Hubble Space Telescope (NASA/ESA)

When viewed through a telescope, Jupiter is an awesome sight. An 80mm (3.1 inch) scope easily shows the main northern and southern equatorial cloud belts. Larger telescopes reveal much more finer details, including smaller belts, ovals, festoons, darkenings and of course the famous "Great Red Spot".

On November 14th, the last quarter Moon passes 5 degrees south of Jupiter.

Jupiter during November 2014

Jupiter during November 2014 - pdf format

Saturn

Saturn reaches solar conjunction on November 18th. The planet is positioned too close to the Sun and therefore not visible this month.

Uranus

Uranus has just passed opposition (October 7th) and remains well placed for observation during November. The seventh planet from the Sun can be spotted above the eastern horizon - amongst the stars of Pisces - as soon as it's dark enough. It remains visible until the early hours of the morning.

Uranus fades very slightly from magnitude +5.7 to +5.8 during November. Although just about visible to the naked eye, it's much easier to detect with binoculars. To reveal the planets disk a telescope is required; a small 80mm (3.1-inch) scope at high magnification will show a small greenish disk but even the largest amateur scopes don't reveal much more.

Of Uranus's 27 known satellites, four can be seen in medium to large sized amateur telescopes. The largest pair, Titania and Oberon can be glimpsed with apertures as small as 200mm (8 inches) but usually a larger scope is required. The next largest two, Umbriel and Ariel are much closer to the planets glare and therefore more difficult to spot, requiring larger scopes.

On November 4th, the waxing gibbous Moon passes 1.3 degrees north of Uranus.

Uranus during November 2014

Uranus during November 2014 - pdf format

Neptune

Neptune, mag. +7.9, located in Aquarius is visible as soon as it's dark enough and remains so until after midnight. The planet is positioned about 30 degrees southwest of the Great Square of Pegasus and just a few degrees west of star sigma (σ) Aqr (mag. +4.8).

Neptune is too faint to be seen with the naked eye, however it's relatively easy to spot with binoculars. A small to medium sized telescope at high magnifications will show the planet as a bluish disk, although with an apparent diameter of only 2.3 arc seconds, it appears very small.

On November 2nd, the waxing gibbous Moon passes 5 degrees north of Neptune. On November 16th the planet reaches its second stationary point, signaling the end of this year's opposition period. It then resumes direct motion. At the end of the month (Nov. 29th), the first quarter Moon passes 5 degrees north of Neptune.

Neptune during November 2014

Neptune during November 2014 - pdf format

Solar System Data Table November 2014

 DateRight AscensionDeclinationApparent MagnitudeApparent SizeIllum. (%)Distance from Earth (AU)Constellation
Sun5th Nov 201414h 39m 22.5s-15d 31m 21.3s-26.832.3'1000.992Libra
Sun15th Nov 201415h 19m 40.8s-18d 21m 03.0s-26.832.3'1000.989Libra
Sun25th Nov 201416h 01m 24.1s-20d 38m 37.9s-26.832.4'1000.987Scorpius
Mercury5th Nov 201413h 33m 13.0s-07d 23m 08.5s-0.806.2"701.077Virgo
Mercury15th Nov 201414h 28m 34.3s-13d 04m 15.4s-0.805.2"911.282Libra
Mercury25th Nov 201415h 30m 33.6s-18d 35m 45.7s-0.904.8"981.400Libra
Venus5th Nov 201414h 50m 58.3s-15d 41m 35.5s-4.009.7"1001.713Libra
Venus15th Nov 201415h 41m 22.7s-19d 19m 09.4s-3.909.8"1001.705Libra
Venus25th Nov 201416h 33m 47.8s-22d 03m 39.4s-3.909.9"991.693Ophiuchus
Mars5th Nov 201418h 30m 24.6s-24d 45m 08.0s0.905.5"911.706Sagittarius
Mars15th Nov 201419h 03m 25.5s-24d 06m 30.8s1.005.3"911.753Sagittarius
Mars25th Nov 201419h 36m 24.8s-23d 01m 24.4s1.005.2"921.800Sagittarius
Jupiter5th Nov 201409h 32m 57.1s15d 12m 58.7s-2.136.8"995.354Leo
Jupiter15th Nov 201409h 36m 27.2s14d 58m 04.3s-2.137.9"995.198Leo
Jupiter25th Nov 201409h 38m 49.9s14d 48m 40.5s-2.239.1"995.042Leo
Saturn5th Nov 201415h 29m 03.2s-16d 56m 12.3s0.615.2"10010.912Libra
Saturn15th Nov 201415h 33m 51.0s-17d 13m 50.3s0.615.2"10010.933Libra
Saturn25th Nov 201415h 38m 41.8s-17d 30m 49.8s0.615.2"10010.928Libra
Uranus5th Nov 201400h 49m 45.1s04d 34m 51.4s5.703.7"10019.139Pisces
Uranus15th Nov 201400h 48m 35.5s04d 27m 49.2s5.703.7"10019.236Pisces
Uranus25th Nov 201400h 47m 39.1s04d 22m 13.4s5.803.6"10019.358Pisces
Neptune5th Nov 201422h 27m 02.2s-10d 30m 36.5s7.902.3"10029.580Aquarius
Neptune15th Nov 201422h 26m 54.1s-10d 31m 13.9s7.902.3"10029.745Aquarius
Neptune25th Nov 201422h 26m 58.9s-10d 30m 36.1s7.902.3"10029.916Aquarius