NASA has just shared its top tips for spotting fun stuff in the sky in the coming weeks.
Highlights include the moon “gliding” past three planets, a partial lunar eclipse, and the return of the winter stars.
First up, from November 6 through 11, you can observe the moon appearing to glide very slowly past Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter.
You’ll be able to spot the moon and the planets in a near diagonal line after sunset by looking south/southwest.
“In particular, if you step outside for a look on November 7, you’ll find the four-day-old crescent moon just about two degrees away from Venus. Should be really pretty, so don’t miss it,” NASA said.
Partial lunar eclipse
Later in the month, on November 18 and 19, you’ll be able to spot a partial lunar eclipse, a phenomenon that occurs when the moon slips into Earth’s shadow.
As the visibility map below shows, folks in all parts of the U.S. and Canada will be able to view the eclipse — weather permitting, of course. It’ll also be viewable in many other parts of the world, though most of Europe will miss out on this occasion.
People on the U.S. East Coast will be able to observe the partial eclipse a little after 2 a.m., before it reaches its maximum at 4 a.m. It means that on the West Coast the eclipse will start at just after 11 p.m., with the peak occurring at 1 a.m.
“Partial lunar eclipses might not be quite as spectacular as total lunar eclipses where the moon is completely covered in Earth’s shadow, but they occur more frequently,” NASA said, adding: “That just means more opportunities to witness little changes in our solar system that sometimes occur right before our eyes.”
Finally, NASA says that if you look east late at night during this month, you should be able to spot the returning stars of the northern winter skies, which rise late and sit high in the south at dawn.
“You’ll find the Pleiades star cluster leading the constellations Taurus the bull and the hunter Orion, followed by the brightest star in the sky, Sirius — all of them back to keep us company on the long winter nights here in the Northern Hemisphere,” the space agency said, adding that the stars will also appear for folks in the Southern Hemisphere on shorter nights as spring moves toward summer there.
As you gaze up at Pleiades, ponder for a moment that several of the eight asteroids being visited in the coming years by NASA’s recently launched Lucy spacecraft are located in that part of the sky.