Monthly Sky Night Map
Our sky map for November 2016 is a free and printable star chart to see stars and constellations in the night sky, from The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
The Celestial Water World
At this time of year, our view of the south-southeast sky is all about water, so prepare to explore the night sky’s Water World, despite the chill in the air!
Just ciick here or on the image below to open the printable map—then bring outside!
Start this month’s tour by looking high in the sky to find the Great Square, part of the constellation Pegasus, the Flying Horse. How can a horse, flying or not, be a part of the Water World? In Greek mythology, the father of Pegasus is Poseidon, the God of the Sea, who just happens to be a horse-god as well. Thus, due to his unusual parentage, Pegasus can be considered a Sea Horse as well as a Flying Horse!
Pegasus appears upside down from our point of view, a common occurrence for constellations. Depending on the time of year—or even the time of night—a constellation may seem to be tipped, inverted, or otherwise askew. Experienced sky gazers learn to recognize the shapes of important constellations regardless of their orientation.
Just beneath the Great Square is the Circlet asterism, part of Pisces, the Fishes. The Circlet represents the head of one of the fishes. Pisces is a sprawling, V-shape constellation that extends from the Circlet down and to the left, where it meets the second fish at the point of the V. The second fish springs upward to the left of the Great Square.
The V points to the midsection of Cetus, the Whale (or Sea Monster). On the left is the five-sided Head of the Whale, which looks very much like a larger version of the Circlet of Pisces. From the Head, a meandering line of very faint stars leads rightward to the Tail of the Whale.
To the right of the Tail lies the bright star Fomalhaut, which represents the mouth of Piscis Austrinus, the Southern Fish. Fomalhaut is the 18th brightest star in the entire sky. This constellation is closely associated with Aquarius, the Water Bearer, located directly above Piscis Austrinus. Aquarius carries a large jar from which he eternally pours a great stream of water into Fomalhaut, the mouth of the Southern Fish.
Between Piscis Austrinus and Aquarius lies Capricornus, the Sea Goat, a bizarre creature with the head of a goat and the tail of a fish. The stars of Capricornus are rather dim, but this November the planet Mars sits nearby, shining far brighter than any of the Sea Goat’s stars. Despite the faintness of its stars, Capricornus has been described as a Sea Goat by many ancient cultures as far back as 4,000 years ago.
Straight above Capricornus and to the right of Pegasus leaps little Delphinus, the Dolphin, the last and smallest denizen of the celestial Water World. Delphinus has the distinction of actually resembling its namesake, a rarity among constellations.
One more thing: The annual Leonid meteor shower will reach its peak on the night of November 16–17. Go outside after midnight and look toward the darkest and most open part of the sky to see this meteor (shooting star) show.
November 2016 Sky Map
Click here or on image below to enlarge this map (PDF).
Sky map produced using Chris Marriott’s Skymap Pro
Enjoy astronomy? Check out Bob Berman’s column, “This Week’s Amazing Sky.”