Big dipper constellation in a dark blue sky

Minnesota Skies: November 2021

Learn more about what to see in November's night sky!

Published11/01/2021 , by Deane Morrison

Watching November’s evening planets from night to night is akin to watching a slow-motion chase. Venus comes out in the setting sun’s afterglow and barely seems to budge all month long; but not so Saturn and brilliant Jupiter. After nightfall, you can watch them close in on Venus as they head toward the horizon. 

Will the two giant planets catch up to the brighter but much smaller Venus? Alas, no. Before year’s end, Venus begins a rapid drop from the evening sky, leaving Saturn and Jupiter behind. 

A diagram showing where Jupiter, Saturn, and Venus are on November 25 while facing south. Jupiter and Saturn are to the left and Venus is to the right.

While you’re watching Saturn and Jupiter, notice the lone bright star low and to the left of the planets. This is Fomalhaut, the only bright star in Piscis Austrinus, the southern fish. Above and to the right of Saturn and Jupiter, the Summer Triangle of bright stars still shines, though lately it has tipped on its side a bit. A waxing moon visits Saturn on November 10 and Jupiter on November 11. On November 12, the moon shines above Fomalhaut. 

In the morning sky, Mercury briefly appears very low in the east-southeast during the first few days of the month. On November 3, if you catch Mercury just as dawn starts to break, you may spot a very thin old moon above the planet.

A composite image of Leonid meteor shower

Image credit: Koen Miskotte

The Leonid meteor shower is predicted to peak the morning of November 17 or 18, but a nearly full moon will interfere for most of the night. November’s full moon rises in the afternoon on November 18, with fullness arriving at 3 am on November 19. The full moon also undergoes a near-total eclipse, entering Earth’s umbra at 1:18 am and exiting at 4:47 am. The maximum eclipse occurs at 3:03 am. That night the moon travels the sky followed closely by the Pleiades star cluster, with the panoply of bright winter stars bringing up the rear.