Look up with the November 2017 sky map to navigate the stars and constellations in the night sky. On this page is both a color sky map and a black and white printable map to bring outside!
Just click here or on the image below to open the printable map—then bring outside!
This month’s highlight: Two Horses, Three Fish, and One Happy Dolphin
When you look to the south on November evenings, your view of the sky is dominated by the Water. This region of the night sky is full of constellations both wet and wild. However, in order to get our bearings, our tour of the Water begins with an airborne equine.
High in the south lies Pegasus, the Winged Horse. He’s flying upside down from our point of view, but the distinctive Great Square that comprises his body is easy to find. Pegasus’s neck and head arc from the lower right corner of the Great Square, ending in the star Enif (Nose). Just off the nose of Pegasus is his offspring, Equuleus, the Foal. No word on whether Equuleus inherited his father’s ability to fly!
Now we can dive into the Water. Look immediately below the Great Square for a small pentagon of stars called the Circlet. It’s the head of the first fish on our tour, one of two scaly swimmers that make up the constellation Pisces. From the Circlet, follow a gentle arc of stars to the left until it meets a sparse line of stars coming down from above at the Vee. The line leads upward to the second member of the Pisces twosome. In Greek mythology, the two fish represent Eros and Aphrodite, joined together with ropes where the two lines of stars meet at the Vee. In this way, the two lovers will never be parted from one another.
Starting again at the Great Square, gaze down past the Circlet to the star Fomalhaut. It’s by far the brightest star in the otherwise dim constellation Piscis Austrinus, the Southern Fish and third member of our Sky Map’s fishy trio. One translation of Fomalhaut is “the mouth of the southern fish.”
Stretched out across this region of sky are several more constellations with watery connections. At lower left flows a large bend of the river Eridanus. Above Eridanus swims sprawling Cetus, the Sea Monster (or Whale).
Above Fomalhaut are the stars of Aquarius, the Water Bearer. Aquarius is often depicted as pouring water from an urn down into Fomalhaut, “the mouth” of Piscis Austrinus. On November 15, the Moon and the planet Mars are near one another in Aquarius. Before and after the 15th, the Moon will be elsewhere, but Mars remains in the vicinity all month long.
Below and to the right of Aquarius is another denizen of the Water: Capricornus, the Sea Goat. This unusual creature with the head of a goat and the tail of a fish has mythological origins dating back more than 4,000 years. It remains a mystery how this group of dim stars became the stuff of legend for many ancient peoples.
The final creature of the celestial sea is not found in the Water itself. Return your attention to the Nose of Pegasus, look past Equuleus, the Foal, and find the little constellation Delphinus, the Dolphin. Despite ranking as one of the smallest constellations, it’s one that truly resembles its name. But what’s a Dolphin doing up there where the horses frolic? Why, it’s doing what dolphins do: leaping out of the Water for the sheer joy of it!
November 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.”