Enjoying EarthSky? Subscribe.

123,437 subscribers and counting ...

By and in
| Astronomy Essentials | Space on Nov 02, 2014

November 2014 guide to the five visible planets

This month, Mars lights up early evening. Jupiter is out from midnight until dawn. Mercury sits low in the east before sunrise. Saturn and Venus hide in the sun’s glare.

View larger.| See the little white dot of the planet Venus in the upper right of this photo?  It'll be back to your evening sky in early December.  Helio de Carvalho Vital captured this image on November 18, 2014 from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  He wrote,

View larger.| See the planet Venus in the upper center of this photo? It’ll be back in your evening sky in early December. Helio de Carvalho Vital captured this image on November 18, 2014 from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Read more about this photo.

Look for the waxing crescent moon near Mars on November 24, November 25 and November 26.

Look for the waxing crescent moon near Mars on November 24, November 25 and November 26.

NASA quells rumor: Days of darkness in December? Of course not

Mars pops into view as soon as darkness falls, though rather low in the southwest sky, throughout November 2014. Catch the red planet at nightfall because this world sets by mid-evening, or around 8 p.m. in November and December at mid-northern latitudes. Although Saturn and Venus are both evening objects as we enter into the month of November, both worlds sit too close to the glare of sunset to be easily visible. In fact, Saturn passes into the morning sky on November 18 (around the time of the Leonid meteor shower) and should be visible before dawn by early December 2014. Venus probably won’t be first visible at evening dusk until December 2014. Jupiter becomes an evening planet later this month in the sense that it rises before midnight, though it’s most easily viewed in the predawn and dawn hours.

Look for the waxing crescent moon near Mars on November 24, November 25 and November 26.

Click here for more detail about the evening planets.

Mercury and Jupiter star as this month’s morning planets. Mercury reaches its greatest elongation from the rising sun on November 1, 2014. At mid-northern latitudes, Mercury rises above the eastern horizon a whopping 90 minutes before sunrise during the first week of November, featuring Mercury’s best morning apparition of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. Jupiter rises in the east at about midnight in early November, and around 10 p.m. by the month’s end. Once Jupiter rises, this brilliant world stays out until dawn, and reaches its highest point point in the sky shortly before sunrise. Look for the last quarter moon near Jupiter in the morning hours on and near November 14.

Click here for more detail about the morning planets.

Special sky events coming up in November 2014:

Leonid meteors best between midnight and dawn November 18

Moon, Mars low in southwest sky as darkness falls November 24

Moon pairs with red planet Mars on November 25

Moon still close to Mars as darkness falls on November 26

Solar System’s outermost planet near moon November 28

Hurry! Purchase eclipse-viewing glasses for solar eclipses here.

A planisphere is virtually indispensable for beginning stargazers. Order your EarthSky planisphere today.

Don’t miss anything! Subscribe to EarthSky News by email

Evening planets in November 2014

Mars visible from dusk until mid-evening.

Saturn fades into November evening dusk.

Venus lost in sun’s glare in November.

Jupiter rises late evening, near midnight.

Morning planets in October 2014

Mercury at dawn in early November.

Jupiter from midnight till dawn all month.

What do we mean by visible planet?

Look for the waxing crescent moon near Mars on November 24, November 25 and November 26.

Look for the waxing crescent moon near Mars on November 24, November 25 and November 26.

Mars visible from evening dusk until mid-evening. Although the red planet Mars is getting dimmer as it lags behind us in its larger and slower orbit, Mars nonetheless remains moderately bright throughout November 2014. This ruddy world still shines as brilliantly as as 1st-magnitude star. Mars starts the month and ends the month in the constellation Sagittarius, and then enters the constellation Capricornus by early December 2014.

Let the waxing crescent moon guide you to Mars on November 24, November 25 and November 26.

At mid-northern latitudes, Mars sets about 3 hours after the sun all month long.

Saturn as captured by the Cassini spacecraft in early February 2014.  Cassini has been in orbit around Saturn since 2004.  Many awesome images!

Saturn as captured by the Cassini spacecraft in early February 2014. Cassini has been in orbit around Saturn since 2004. Many awesome images!

Saturn fades into November evening dusk. This world fades into the glare of sunset and then enters the morning sky in the second half of November. You probably won’t see the ringed planet in the predawn/dawn sky until December 2014.

Binoculars don’t reveal Saturn’s gorgeous rings. For that, you need a small telescope. Early December will probably present your first opportunity to view Saturn in the morning sky, which might become a decent telescopic object by late December. Saturn’s rings are inclined at about 23o from edge-on in November 2014, exhibitng their northern face. Several years from now, in October 2017, the rings will open most widely, displaying a maximum inclination of 27o. As with so much in space (and on Earth), the appearance of Saturn’s rings from Earth is cyclical. In the year 2025, the rings will appear edge-on as seen from Earth. After that, we’ll begin to see the south side of Saturn’s rings, to increase to a maximum inclination of 27o by May 2032.

At mid-northern latitudes, Saturn sets about 45 minutes after sunset in early November, and rises about one hour before the sun by the month’s end.

Venus lost in sun’s glare in November. Venus transitioned from the morning to the evening sky in October 2014. However, Venus hovers close to the setting sun all through November, and probably won’t become visible at dusk until December 2014.

Mercury and moon, by GregDiesel Landscape Photography

Mercury and moon on February 27, 2014, by GregDiesel Landscape Photography. Greg managed to catch Mercury just at the beginning of its long March 2014 apparition in the predawn sky.

Mercury at dawn in early November. in late October/early November Mercury rises more than one and one-half hours before the sun at mid-northern latitudes, to present the Northern Hemisphere’s best morning apparition of Mercury for the year. Mercury will reach its greatest elongation from the rising sun on November 1, 2014.

Jupiter in predawn/dawn sky all month Jupiter had a wonderful conjunction with Venus – the year’s closest of any two planets – on the morning of August 18, 2014. But Jupiter now shines high in the sky at dawn while Venus sits in the glare of the sun. Jupiter lords over the morning sky right now, rising at late evening, or close to midnight all month long. Look for the moon near Jupiter on the nights of November 12-13 and November 13-14.

If you have binoculars or a telescope, be sure to check out Jupiter’s four major moons, which look like pinpricks of light on or near the same plane. They are often called the Galilean moons to honor Galileo, who discovered these great Jovian moons in 1610. In their order from Jupiter, these moons are Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. Io and Europa are about the size of Earth’s moon while the diameters of Ganymede and Callisto are about one and one-half times greater. Because these moons move quickly around Jupiter, their positions vary considerably from night to night. Click here for a Jupiter’s moons almanac, courtesy of Sky & Telescope.

The sizes of Jupiter's four major moons in contrast to Jupiter's Great Red Spot. From top to bottom, the moons are Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. Image credit: NASA/JPL/DLR

The sizes of Jupiter’s four major moons in contrast to Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. From top to bottom, the moons are Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. Image credit: NASA/JPL/DLR

Like Earth’s moon, one side of Jupiter’s moons perpetually faces its parent planet whereas the opposite side always remains the far side. That is because of synchronous rotation – whereby the moon’s rotational period equals its orbital period. In other words, the moon rotates on its axis and circles its parent planet in the same period of time. Interestingly, the three inner moons – Ganymede, Europa and Io – exhibit a 1:2:4 orbital resonance, meaning that Ganymede orbits Jupiter one time for every two times that Europa does, and every four times that Io does.

Distances of the planets from the sun

What do we mean by visible planet? By visible planet, we mean any solar system planet that is easily visible without an optical aid and that has been watched by our ancestors since time immemorial. In their outward order from the sun, the five visible planets are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. These planets are visible in our sky because their disks reflect sunlight, and these relatively nearby worlds tend to shine with a steadier light than the distant, twinkling stars. They tend to be bright! You can spot them, and come to know them as faithful friends, if you try.

Bottom line: In November 2014 Mars lights up the early evening hours; Jupiter is out from midnight till dawn; and Mercury is found low in the east as darkness gives way to dawn. This month, Saturn and Venus are lost in the sun’s glare.

A planisphere is virtually indispensable for beginning stargazers. Order your EarthSky planisphere today.

Track the moon every night throughout the year using EarthSky’s lunar calendar!

Don’t miss anything! Subscribe to EarthSky News by email

Lunar eclipse on the night of October 8, 2014.  The object to the left is the planet Uranus!  This beautiful photo is by Janey Wing Kenyon of Story, Wyoming.

Lunar eclipse on the night of October 8, 2014. The object to the left is the planet Uranus! This beautiful photo is by Janey Wing Kenyon of Story, Wyoming.

Debra Fryar in Calobreves, Texas captured this photo of the moon and Jupiter on May 31, 2014.  Jupiter was close to the twilight then.  In early July, Jupiter will be even closer to the twilight, about to disappear in the sun's glare.

Debra Fryar in Calobreves, Texas captured this photo of the moon and Jupiter on May 31, 2014. Jupiter was close to the twilight then. Jupiter disappeared into the sunset glare around mid-July 2014.

Jupiter and its four major moons as seen through a 10

With only a modest backyard telescope, you can easily see Jupiter’s four largest moons. Here they are through a 10″ (25 cm) Meade LX200 telescope. Image credit: Jan Sandberg

Jupiter and one of its moons, Io, on February 28, 2014 via Earthsky Facebook friend Derek Brookes.  Thank you, Derek!

Jupiter and one of its moons, Io, on February 28, 2014 via Earthsky Facebook friend Derek Brookes. Thank you, Derek!

Jupiter was rivaling the streetlights on December 29, 2013, when Mohamed Laaifat Photographies captured this photo in Normandy, France.

Jupiter was rivaling the streetlights on December 29, 2013, when Mohamed Laaifat Photographies captured this photo in Normandy, France. Visit his page on Facebook.

Jupiter and its four major moons as seen through a 10

With only a modest backyard telescope, you can easily see Jupiter’s four largest moons. Here they are through a 10″ (25 cm) Meade LX200 telescope. Image credit: Jan Sandberg

Skywatcher, moon, planet (looks like Venus) from Predrag Agatonovic.

Skywatcher, moon, planet (looks like Venus) from Predrag Agatonovic.

Venus on Dec. 26 by Danny Crocker-Jensen

Venus on Dec. 26 by Danny Crocker-Jensen

On the moonless evening of December 3, 2013, Chris Georgia took this gorgeous photo of the constellation Orion (above his head and left of the light pole), the planet Jupiter (brightest star-like object at left), and the Gemini stars to upper left of Jupiter: Castor (at top) and Pollux (at bottom). Thank you so much, Chris! View larger

On the moonless evening of December 3, 2013, Chris Georgia took this gorgeous photo of the constellation Orion (above his head and left of the light pole), the planet Jupiter (brightest star-like object at left), and the Gemini stars to upper left of Jupiter: Castor (at top) and Pollux (at bottom). Thank you so much, Chris! View larger

These are called star trails. It’s a long-exposure photo, which shows you how Earth is turning under the stars. The brightest object here is Jupiter, which is the second-brightest planet, after Venus. This awesome photo by EarthSky Facebook friend Mohamed Laaifat in Normandy, France. Thank you, Mohamed.

View larger. | Venus shining above the rock of Asseu, Gulf of Riva Trigoso, Sestri Levante, Ligurian Sea, Genoa, Italy, November 29, 2013, via Maranatha.it Photography.

View larger. | Venus shining above the rock of Asseu, Gulf of Riva Trigoso, Sestri Levante, Ligurian Sea, Genoa, Italy, November 29, 2013, via Maranatha.it Photography.

View larger. | Mars and moon as seen from Hong Kong on October 2, 2013 via EarthSky Facebook friend Matthew Chin.  Thank you, Matthew!  Mars is getting easier to see, but it's still pretty close to the sunrise, and it's relatively faint in contrast to how bright it will become in 2014.

View larger. | Mars and moon as seen from Hong Kong on October 2, 2013 via EarthSky Facebook friend Matthew Chin. Thank you, Matthew!

View larger. |  EarthSky Facebook friend Peter Wong in Adelaide, Australia captured this image of planets and the star Spica in the west after sunset on September 26, 2013.  As seen from the Southern Hemisphere - where it's spring now - the planets are straight up above the sunset.  Thank you, Peter!

View larger. | EarthSky Facebook friend Peter Wong in Adelaide, Australia captured this image of planets and the star Spica in the west after sunset on September 26, 2013. Thank you, Peter!

View larger. | Moon and Venus on September 7, as captured by EarthSky Facebook friend Ken Christison in North Carolina.  Thank you, Ken!  On Sunday evening - September 8 - the moon will appear much closer to Venus.  The Americas, in particular, will get a dramatically close view of the pair.

View larger. | Here are the moon and Venus on September 7, 2013 as captured by EarthSky Facebook friend Ken Christison in North Carolina. Thank you, Ken!

View larger. | Mercury, Venus and Jupiter seen when evening fell in Hong Kong earlier today - June 1, 2013 - by EarthSky Facebook friend Matthew Chin.  Awesome shot, Matthew!

View larger. | Mercury, Venus and Jupiter seen when evening fell in Hong Kong earlier today – June 1, 2013 – by EarthSky Facebook friend Matthew Chin. Awesome shot, Matthew!

View larger.  |  From left to right, Jupiter, Venus and Mercury as seen last night, May 24.  EarthSky Facebook friend Duke Marsh captured this photo in Clarksville, Indiana.

View larger. | From left to right, Jupiter, Venus and Mercury as seen May 24, 2013. EarthSky Facebook friend Duke Marsh captured this photo in Clarksville, Indiana.

View larger. | The two brightest objects in this photo - and in your evening sky on May 12, 2013 - appeared to be the waxing crescent moon and Jupiter.   In reality, an even brighter planet - Venus - was also up, but buried in bright twilight.  Photo by EarthSky Facebook friend Daniel McVey.

View larger. | The two brightest objects in this photo – and in your evening sky on May 12, 2013 – appeared to be the waxing crescent moon and Jupiter. In reality, an even brighter planet – Venus – was also up, but buried in bright twilight. Photo by EarthSky Facebook friend Daniel McVey.

Easily locate stars and constellations during any day and time with EarthSky’s Planisphere.

Don’t miss anything! Subscribe to EarthSky News by email