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Kiss the Sky Tonight -- Month of November 2020

Posted by Guy Pirro   11/02/2020 03:11PM

Kiss the Sky Tonight -- Month of November 2020

M74 (NGC 628), a perfectly shaped spiral galaxy, is one of the most photogenic galaxies in the night sky. An island universe of about 100 billion stars, 30 million light-years away toward the constellation Pisces, M74 presents a gorgeous face-on view to earthbound astronomers. Classified as an Sc galaxy, the grand design of M74's graceful spiral arms traced by bright blue star clusters and dark cosmic dust lanes, is similar in many respects to our own home galaxy, the Milky Way. Recorded with a 28 million pixel detector array, this impressive image celebrates first light for the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph (GMOS), a state-of-the-art instrument at the 8-meter Gemini North telescope. The Gemini North Observatory gazes into the skies above Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA, while its twin observatory, Gemini South, operates in central Chile. [Video Credits: NASA, JPL – Caltech, and the Office of Public Outreach – STScI] [Image Credit: Gemini Observatory, GMOS Team]



Kiss the Sky Tonight -- Month of November 2020

Welcome to the night sky report for November 2020 -- Your guide to the constellations, deep sky objects, planets, and celestial events that are observable during the month. In November, hunt for the fainter constellations of fall, including Pisces, Aries, and Triangulum. They will guide you to find several galaxies and a pair of white stars. The night sky is truly a celestial showcase. Get outside and explore its wonders from your own backyard.

The dark, cold nights of November are a good time to start looking for the Pleiades. This bright cluster of stars is a well-known sight to most stargazers, and is best enjoyed in the cooler fall and winter months in the Northern Hemisphere.

The Pleiades is what's known as an open star cluster – it's a loosely bound grouping of a couple thousand stars that formed together and are slowly drifting apart over time. A handful of the brightest stars in the cluster are visible with the unaided eye, and with binoculars or a telescope, you can see hundreds.

Astronomers estimate the age of the cluster is only about 100 million years. It's located a bit more than 400 light years away. The brightest stars in the Pleiades are many times brighter than our own star, the Sun. In fact, if you were to visit the Pleiades and look homeward, you wouldn't even be able to see the Sun without a small telescope.

On cool November evenings, look for the Pleiades in the east in the couple of hours after dark. The cluster rises to its highest point around midnight. You can also enjoy an early morning view of the Pleiades near the Moon, before dawn on November 2nd.





Pegasus flies high in the southeast after nightfall and is a good guidepost for some of autumn’s dimmer patterns. Look south and east of the Great Square of Pegasus for Pisces, the fish. In Greek legend, the two fish, tied together with a rope, represent Aphrodite and Eros, who transformed themselves to escape a monster.


The sprawling star pattern includes the Circlet, marking the western fish. Located below the pattern of the eastern fish is the spiral galaxy M74 (NGC 628). NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has rendered it in exquisite detail. M74 is known as a grand design spiral and has two prominent bluish spiral arms wound neatly around the redder galactic nucleus. The nucleus appears redder because there is little new star formation there and many of the hot blue stars have evolved to become red giant stars or have exhausted their fuel altogether. NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope provides a dramatic view of the infrared light of the galaxy. The pink hues depict dust lanes that punctuate the spiral arms, showing dense cloud regions where new stars can form.


To the east of the Great Square and Pisces lies the small pattern of Aries the ram. The third-brightest star in the pattern, named Mesarthim, is a lovely pair of white stars, easy to distinguish in a small telescope.


Above Aries is the constellation of Triangulum. The constellation contains the third-largest galaxy of our Local Group, after the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies: M33, the Triangulum Galaxy. From our perspective, this galaxy is relatively large and diffuse and can be spotted with binoculars. NASA’s space telescopes have imaged the galaxy’s spiral features in great detail. Spitzer’s infrared view shows the distribution of dust in its ragged spiral arms. An ultraviolet image from NASA’s GALEX mission shows emissions from hot stars in its disk. Look for the bright blue and white areas to see where star formation has been extremely active over the past few million years. Patches of yellow and gold are regions where star formation was more active 100 million years ago.

On November 18th and 19th, enjoy a lovely crescent moon near Jupiter and Saturn after sunset. The two planets have been brilliant highlights of the night sky for much of this year, and are now getting closer together in advance of their super close pairing in mid-December. More about that next month, but for now, be sure to watch as they draw a little nearer to each other each week.





You may have marveled at how brightly a full moon can light up a nighttime landscape, but have you noticed how Earth can illuminate the night side of the Moon? This eerily beautiful glow is called Earthshine. It's sunlight that's been reflected off of Earth, then bounced off the Moon and back to our eyes.

Earthshine is easiest to observe in the few days before and after the new moon, when the part of the Moon that's directly lit by the Sun appears as a slim crescent. This is partly because there's less of the bright, sunlit surface to compete with the dimmer Earthshine-lit portion, and partly because the phases of Earth and the Moon are complimentary: when the Moon is a slim crescent in our sky, Earth seen from the Moon looks nearly full.

Occasionally, NASA spacecraft use this phenomenon to make the night side of other planets and moons visible – for example Saturn-shine on Saturn's moons and ring-shine lighting up Saturn itself, as seen by NASA's Cassini spacecraft.

The best times to observe Earthshine in November are on the 17th through the 20th, following sunset, and before dawn on the 9th through the 12th. And for an added treat, on the 12th, the Moon, illuminated by both sunshine and Earthshine, will appear just above the "Morning Star," Venus.

Make an effort to brave the chilly nights and enjoy the constellations, stars, and galaxies of the November sky.


The night sky is always a celestial showcase. Explore its wonders from your own backyard.

The following Deep Sky Objects are found in constellations that peak during the month. Some can be viewed with a small telescope, but the majority will require a moderate to large telescope. The following is adapted from my personal viewing list: "The Guy Pirro 777 Best and Brightest Deep Sky Objects."



Constellation: Aries

NGC 772                      Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H112-1

     - NGC 770               Galaxy                              - Paired with H112-1

NGC 821                      Galaxy                         P234


Constellation: Cetus

IC 1613                        Galaxy                         C51

NGC 157                      Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H3-2

NGC 246                      Planetary Nebula      C56, Herschel 400 H25-5

NGC 247                      Galaxy                         C62, Herschel 400 H20-5

NGC 584                      Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H100-1

NGC 596                      Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H4-2

NGC 615                      Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H282-8

NGC 720                      Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H105-1

NGC 779                      Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H101-1

NGC 908                      Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H153-1

NGC 936                      Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H23-4

     - NGC 941               Galaxy                              - Paired with H23-4

NGC 1022                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H102-1

NGC 1042                    Galaxy                         P221

NGC 1052                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H63-1

NGC 1055                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H1-1

NGC 1068                    Galaxy                         M77 Cetus A Seyfert Galaxy


Constellation: Fornax

NGC 1097                    Galaxy                         C67

NGC 1201                    Galaxy                         P153

NGC 1316                    Galaxy                         P30 Fornax A Galaxy

NGC 1326                    Galaxy                         P154

NGC 1340                    Galaxy                         P83

NGC 1350                    Galaxy                         P155

NGC 1360                    Planetary Nebula      P84

NGC 1365                    Galaxy                         P51

NGC 1380                    Galaxy                         P85

NGC 1399                    Galaxy                         P32

NGC 1398                    Galaxy                         P33

NGC 1404                    Galaxy                         P86


Constellation: Leo

NGC 2903                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H56-1

NGC 2964                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H114-1

     - NGC 2968             Galaxy                              - Paired with H114-1

NGC 3190                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H44-2

     - NGC 3187             Galaxy                              - Paired with H44-2

NGC 3193                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H45-2

NGC 3226                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H28-2 Paired with H29-2

NGC 3227                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H29-2 Leo Seyfert Galaxy Paired with H28-2

NGC 3351                    Galaxy                         M95

NGC 3368                    Galaxy                         M96

NGC 3377                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H99-2

NGC 3379                    Galaxy                         M105, Herschel 400 H17-1

NGC 3384                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H18-1

NGC 3412                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H27-1

NGC 3489                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H101-2

NGC 3521                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H13-1

NGC 3593                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H29-1

NGC 3607                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H50-2 Paired with H51-2

NGC 3608                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H51-2 Paired with H50-2

NGC 3623                    Galaxy                         M65

NGC 3626                    Galaxy                         C40, Herschel 400 H52-2

NGC 3627                    Galaxy                         M66

NGC 3628                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H8-5

NGC 3640                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H33-2

     - NGC 3641             Galaxy                              - Paired with H33-2

NGC 3655                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H5-1

NGC 3686                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H160-2

NGC 3810                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H21-1

NGC 3900                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H82-1

NGC 3912                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H342-2


Constellation: Perseus

IC 348                          Open Cluster               P95

IC 2003                        Planetary Nebula       P237

NGC 650                      Planetary Nebula       M76 Little Dumbell Nebula

NGC 651                      Planetary Nebula       Herschel 400 H193-1 Part of M76

NGC 744                      Open Cluster               P96

NGC 869                      Open Cluster               C14a, Herschel 400 H33-6 Double Cluster (West)

NGC 884                      Open Cluster               C14b, Herschel 400 H34-6 Double Cluster (East)

NGC 957                      Open Cluster               P97

NGC 1023                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H156-1

NGC 1039                    Open Cluster               M34 Spiral Cluster

NGC 1220                    Open Cluster               P238

NGC 1245                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H25-6

NGC 1275                    Galaxy                        C24 Perseus A Seyfert Galaxy

NGC 1342                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H88-8

NGC 1444                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H80-8

NGC 1496                    Open Cluster               P174

NGC 1499                    Diffuse Nebula             P44 - California Nebula

NGC 1513                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H60-7

NGC 1528                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H61-7

NGC 1545                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H85-8

NGC 1582                    Open Cluster               P45

NGC 1605                    Open Cluster               P239

NGC 1624                    Open Cluster               P240


Constellation: Pegasus

NGC 7078                    Globular Cluster        M15

NGC 7217                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H207-2

NGC 7331                    Galaxy                         C30, Herschel 400 H53-1

NGC 7448                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H251-2

NGC 7457                    Galaxy                         P173

NGC 7479                    Galaxy                         C44, Herschel 400 H55-1

NGC 7814                    Galaxy                         C43


Constellation: Pisces

NGC 488                      Galaxy                             Herschel 400 H252-3

NGC 524                      Galaxy                             Herschel 400 H151-1

NGC 628                      Galaxy                             M74

NGC 676                      Galaxy                             P175


Constellation: Taurus

Messier 45                    Open Cluster               M45 Pleiades

Caldwell 41                   Open Cluster                C41 Hyades

IC 1995                        Diffuse Nebula              P64

NGC 1514                    Planetary Nebula           P120

NGC 1554                    Diffuse Nebula              P200 Von Struve’s Lost Nebula

NGC 1555                    Diffuse Nebula              P201 Hind’s Variable Nebula

NGC 1647                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H8-8

NGC 1750                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H43-8

NGC 1807                    Open Cluster               P65

NGC 1817                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H4-7

NGC 1952                    Diffuse Nebula             M1 Crab Nebula


Constellation: Triangulum

NGC 598                      Galaxy                         M33 Herschel 400 H17-5 Triangulum Galaxy

NGC 925                      Galaxy                         P66







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