Friday, November 4
The days of viewing Saturn in the evening sky are dwindling rapidly. You can find the ringed world about 10° high in the southwest 45 minutes after sunset this week. The planet shines at magnitude 0.5 and shows up quite easily if you have a clear, unobstructed horizon. Use Venus as a guide. This evening, Saturn lies 7° (the approximate field of view through 7x50 binoculars) to the right of its brilliant neighbor.
Saturday, November 5
The variable star Algol in Perseus reaches minimum brightness around 11:31 p.m. EDT, when it shines at magnitude 3.4. If you start tracking it this evening, you can watch it more than triple in brightness (to magnitude 2.1) by dawn. This eclipsing binary star runs through a cycle from minimum to maximum and back every 2.87 days. Algol remains visible all night, passing nearly overhead around 1 a.m. local daylight time.
Sunday, November 6
Mars continues to put on a nice show these November evenings. The magnitude 0.4 Red Planet lies among the background stars of Sagittarius and appears 25° high in the south-southwest after darkness falls. (It will pass into Capricornus on November 8.) A telescope shows the planet’s 7"-diameter disk, though you’ll be hard-pressed to see much surface detail except under exceptional conditions. This evening, Mars lies some 8° to the lower right of the waxing crescent Moon. The two were in conjunction (when Luna passed 5° due north of the ruddy world) early this morning, but both were then below the horizon from North America.
For those areas of the United States and Canada that observe daylight saving time, set your clocks back one hour this morning. The official switch occurs at 2 a.m. local daylight time, which becomes 1 a.m. local standard time. The switch means sunrise and sunset both arrive an hour earlier today than they did yesterday. So, at least by clock time, the latest sunrise of the year occurred yesterday morning.