A look at the Arizona November Sky Tour

Oct 27, 2021, 2:15 PM
(Photo by: VW Pics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)...
(Photo by: VW Pics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
(Photo by: VW Pics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

With the fall season now in full swing, we look forward to the holidays and there will be many celestial treats for all to explore!

Month number 11, November, offers us some of the clearest skies of the calendar year with sunsets well before 6 p.m. local time. We can get some sky viewing in without having to stay up late at night, if you prefer not to!

November is known for a classic meteor shower — the Leonids — some interesting evening planets and a unique near total lunar eclipse.

Our trip begins with the moon and its journey around our Arizona skies.

As November opens up, the moon will appear low in the SE sky just before dawn. This is the thin waning crescent moon. The moon moves on to its new phase or “dark of the moon”, on Nov.4. This is the best time of the month to get out those binoculars or telescope, as the darkest of skies will be at their best for the month.

Follow us by visiting the link at the bottom of this blog, and for the monthly star chart click here.

There, you will find a treasure trove of information on what to see and when to look.

From here, the moon then waxes after sunset as a thin crescent and passes the planet Venus on the 7th and 8th, low in the SW sky.

First quarter moon is on the 11th and the moon then turns egg shaped, or “gibbous,” for a few nights before we come to the next full moon of the month on the 19th. This is the Full Beaver Moon.

The moon is actually full at 1:58 a.m. on the morning of Nov. 19.

Normally, this would be just another full moon, but on that date and time, here in Arizona we experience a near total lunar eclipse.

Here are some of the details on this eclipse.

The information listed above may seem a bit complex for some observers, as the details of the eclipse for Arizona are listed below:

The eclipse will be a morning event for Arizona, so try and prepare ahead of time for your best view of the moon and a location free of trees and buildings.

The penumbral phase of the eclipse begins at 11:02 p.m. on the 18th. This is the outer shadow of the earth and is very difficult to notice.

The real action — the start of the partial phases — begin at 12:18 a.m. on the morning of the 19th.

From here, the moon moves on to its near total phase at 2:02 a.m. when upwards of 97% of the moon will be inside the umbral shadow of the earth.

The best is then over, as the partial phases end at 3:47 a.m.

This is a great time to experience the wonders of lunar eclipses.

The moon will appear in the constellation of Taurus and will be located on the ascending node of the ecliptic path.

Listed as a partial lunar eclipse, this will appear to many as a deep “total” lunar eclipse, due to the fact that the moon will be well inside the deep umbra of the earth. Here is a graphic of the moon during eclipse.

Get out those camera and phone devices for some memorable images in the telescope of telephoto lenses.

From here, the moon wanes and returns to last quarter phase on Nov. 27.

For planets, look low in the SW at dusk for Venus. Venus will be getting brighter in November and in the telescope it will begin to look like a thick crescent. Venus reaches its great brilliancy on Dec. 7.

Jupiter and Saturn are your planets in November, high in the S at sunset.

One of the best meteor showers of the year, the Leonids, will roar under a bright moon on the morning of the 17th. Look to the E sky after midnight till dawn. As mentioned above, the bright moon will reduce the numbers seen!

Here are more details on the Leonids.

November offers some amazing events in our skies!

Wishing you and yours the best for a great Thanksgiving and clear skies.

To print your own monthly star chart, click here.

To view satellites/dates/times of passage, click here.

Listen to the Dr. Sky Show on KTAR News 92.3 FM every Saturday morning at 3 a.m.

Podcasts are available here.

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A look at the Arizona November Sky Tour