Mercury reaches greatest elongation east (GEE) on November 6th when it's 23 degrees in the sky from the Sun. From equatorial and southern locations, the inner planet can be found low down in the western evening sky early in the month just after sunset. It will set up to two hours after the Sun on the day of GEE and shine at magnitude -0.3. Each subsequent evening, the planet's visibility slightly decreases until it's eventually lost to the bright twilight. Mercury reaches inferior conjunction on November 27th.
From mid-latitude northern locations, the shallow angle of the ecliptic to the horizon means it will be a difficult low down target, best seen around GEE.
Venus returns to the morning sky this month. The brilliant planet is unmistakable before sunrise above the eastern horizon. As the month progresses it climbs higher in the sky, with its brightness increasing from magnitude -4.6 to -4.9 as the month progresses. Its angular size decreases from 60 to 41 arc seconds this month with its illuminated phase increasing from only 1% to 25%.
Mars is now an evening object. The 'Red planet' starts November in Capricornus before crossing into Aquarius on the 12th where it remains for the rest of November. Mars continues to fade with its magnitude decreasing from -0.6 to -0.1 as the month progresses. From southern locations, it appears high in the north-western sky after sunset. From northern locations, Mars can be seen in the southern sky and improves in elevation each subsequent evening.
The angular size of the planet decreases from 11.9 arc seconds to 9.3 arc seconds during the month. However, this is still large enough to spot major features, such as Syrtis Major, on its pink surface. The waxing gibbous Moon passes a degree south of Mars on November 16th.
Jupiter is visible in the early evening sky for the first few days of the month from southern and equatorial locations. After that the planet will be setting too close to the Sun for safe observation. It the reaches superior conjunction on November 26th. From mid-latitude northern latitudes Jupiter will not be visible this month.
Saturn remains a well-placed evening object from southern and equatorial latitudes. From such locations, the ringed planet sets just before midnight at the beginning of November, but by month's end only two hours later than the Sun. It's currently located in Sagittarius. At the end of November, it will be just over a degree from the superb globular cluster, M22 (mag. +5.1). The visibility period from northern locations is not so favourable, but the planet can still be seen low down above the southwest as soon as it is dark enough. By months end, Saturn will have disappeared from view.
Saturn currently shines at magnitude +0.6 with an apparent diameter of about 15 arc seconds. The thin waxing crescent Moon passes less than 2 degrees north of the planet on November 11th.
Uranus reached opposition last month and continues to be well placed for observation throughout November. The seventh planet from the Sun is located in Aries. It's visible towards the east as soon as it's dark enough, remaining so until the early hours of the morning. At mag. +5.7, Uranus can just about be seen with the naked eye although it's much easier to spot with binoculars. A small 80mm (3.1-inch) refractor at high magnifications shows a small greenish disk, 3.7 arc seconds in diameter.
Uranus has 27 known most satellites and the largest four can be spotted with medium/large amateur telescopes. Titania and Oberon can be seen with 200mm (8 inch) scopes. Umbriel and Ariel are more difficult to spot, since fainter and orbit closer to the planet.
On November 20th, the waxing gibbous Moon passes 5 degrees south of Uranus.
Neptune, mag. +7.9, is located in Aquarius. The distant planet can be spotted after sunset and remains visible until after midnight. Although never bright enough to be seen with the naked eye, it's relatively easy to glimpse with binoculars and small telescopes. The planet is currently positioned about 30 degrees southwest of the centre of the Great Square of Pegasus and a couple of degrees east of lambda Aqr (λ Aqr - mag. +3.7). At the end of the month, much brighter Mars moves to within a few degrees of Neptune.
Neptune starts the month moving retrograde until November 25th, when its second stationary point is reached. Direct motion is then resumed and this event is generally regarded as signalling the end of this year's opposition period.
On November 17th, the waxing gibbous Moon passes 3 degrees south of Neptune.
Solar System Data Table - November 2018
|Date||Right Ascension||Declination||Mag.||App. Size||Illum. (%)||Dist. (AU)||Constellation|
|Sun||Nov 01||14h 23m 31.5s||-14d 15m 20.7s||-26.8||32.2'||100||0.993||Libra|
|Sun||Nov 15||15h 19m 35.6s||-18d 20m 40.6s||-26.8||32.3'||100||0.989||Libra|
|Sun||Nov 30||16h 22m 37.8s||-21d 33m 06.7s||-26.8||32.4'||100||0.986||Scorpius|
|Mercury||Nov 01||15h 52m 00.7s||-22d 50m 53.5s||-0.2||6.0"||74||1.121||Scorpius|
|Mercury||Nov 15||16h 44m 39.9s||-24d 40m 57.1s||0.1||8.0"||39||0.844||Ophiuchus|
|Mercury||Nov 30||15h 58m 27.5s||-18d 46m 04.5s||3.8||9.7"||3||0.692||Libra|
|Venus||Nov 01||13h 42m 45.6s||-16d 08m 56.9s||-4.2||60.7"||1||0.275||Virgo|
|Venus||Nov 15||13h 30m 15.7s||-11d 15m 13.3s||-4.7||52.4"||11||0.318||Virgo|
|Venus||Nov 30||13h 47m 11.3s||-09d 45m 26.3s||-4.9||41.4"||25||0.403||Virgo|
|Mars||Nov 01||21h 36m 15.2s||-16d 42m 17.3s||-0.6||11.9"||86||0.788||Capricornus|
|Mars||Nov 15||22h 07m 39.0s||-13d 22m 21.6s||-0.3||10.5"||86||0.888||Aquarius|
|Mars||Nov 30||22h 42m 35.2s||-09d 27m 09.0s||-0.1||9.4"||86||1.001||Aquarius|
|Jupiter||Nov 01||15h 44m 04.9s||-19d 03m 32.7s||-1.7||31.3"||100||6.290||Libra|
|Jupiter||Nov 15||15h 56m 45.7s||-19d 44m 02.5s||-1.7||31.1"||100||6.338||Libra|
|Jupiter||Nov 30||16h 10m 42.6s||-20d 23m 54.8s||-1.7||31.1"||100||6.344||Scorpius|
|Saturn||Nov 01||18h 20m 18.8s||-22d 46m 34.1s||0.6||15.7"||100||10.577||Sagittarius|
|Saturn||Nov 15||18h 25m 43.2s||-22d 45m 09.3s||0.6||15.5"||100||10.755||Sagittarius|
|Saturn||Nov 30||18h 32m 21.3s||-22d 42m 02.6s||0.5||15.2"||100||10.904||Sagittarius|
|Uranus||Nov 01||01h 52m 19.1s||10d 56m 09.6s||5.7||3.7"||100||18.886||Aries|
|Uranus||Nov 15||01h 50m 14.3s||10d 44m 52.4s||5.7||3.7"||100||18.952||Aries|
|Uranus||Nov 30||01h 48m 19.8s||10d 34m 36.1s||5.7||3.7"||100||19.085||Aries|
|Neptune||Nov 01||23h 01m 04.2s||-07d 22m 04.1s||7.8||2.3"||100||29.355||Aquarius|
|Neptune||Nov 15||23h 00m 34.3s||-07d 24m 49.9s||7.9||2.3"||100||29.568||Aquarius|
|Neptune||Nov 30||23h 00m 29.0s||-07d 24m 59.2s||7.9||2.3"||100||29.820||Aquarius|