Deborah Byrd

November 2020 guide to the bright planets

See all 5 bright solar system planets in November 2020! See 3 bright planets at nightfall: Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Then see 2 bright planets in the morning sky: Venus and Mercury.

What’s a Blue Moon, and when is the next one?

We have a Blue Moon coming up on October 31, 2020. It’ll be called a Blue Moon because it’ll be the 2nd of 2 full moons in a single calendar month. And it’ll be near a bright red object in the sky, Mars!

A galaxy, with green lines drawn in to indicate magnetic fields, appearing like "tentacles" and emphasizing the galaxy's jellyfish-like appearance.

The magnetic fields of a jellyfish galaxy

New work reveals the intricate relationship between so-called jellyfish galaxies, and the magnetic environment through which they move.

Watch for Earth’s shadow and the Belt of Venus

Look east after sunset – or west before sunrise – for Earth’s shadow. It’s a deep blue-grey band, curved as Earth is curved, moving opposite the sun. The Belt of Venus is the subtle pink band above the shadow.

October’s second full moon falls on October 31, Halloween

October’s second full moon is at 14:49 UTC October 31, but it will look full before and after that date. That’s a full moon for Halloween.

Watch for Sirius, sky’s brightest star

Out late at night or before dawn? Look for Sirius, a brilliant beauty of a star. You’ll always know it’s Sirius if you see Orion’s Belt pointing to it.

Image of bright Gamma Cephei with sparsely distributed faint stars.

Gamma Cephei: A future Pole Star

About two thousand years from now, Gamma Cephei, an inconspicuous star in the constellation Cepheus, will become our North Star.

Watch Capella flashing red and green

A bright star twinkling with red and green flashes, low in the northeastern sky on October evenings, is probably Capella.

Star chart showing Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, plus constellations of the celestial "ocean."

The ocean in the autumn sky

In Northern Hemisphere autumn (Southern Hemisphere spring), you can see a group of constellations that represented an “ocean” to the early stargazers.

A star map showing how to find the Andromeda Galaxy from Alpheratz.

Alpheratz belongs to Andromeda, but is part of the Great Square

Alpheratz, the brightest star in the constellation Andromeda, can help you locate the Andromeda Galaxy, the closest large spiral galaxy to our Milky Way home galaxy.