Ready for some stargazing? 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 relating to aquatic life, but our tour of The Water begins with an airborne equine.
Just click here or on the image below to open the printable map—then bring outside!
Note: You’ll need to do your star gazing from a very dark location to see many of the sights described here.
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). How can a horse, flying or not, be a part of the sky’s water world? In Greek mythology, Pegasus is the son of Poseidon, the god of the sea, who just happens to be the horse god as well. Due to his unusual father, Pegasus can be considered a seahorse as well as a flying horse!
Just off the nose of Pegasus is his offspring, Equuleus, the Foal. There’s never been any word on whether Equuleus inherited his father’s ability to fly!
The Three Fishes
Now we can dive more deeply into The Water. Look immediately below the Great Square for a small pentagon of dim stars called the Circlet. It’s the head of the first fish (Fish #1) on our tour, one of two scaly swimmers that make up the constellation Pisces, the Fishes. From the Circlet, follow a long, dim arc of stars to the left until it meets a sparse line of stars coming down from above at The Vee. This line leads upward to the second fish (Fish #2) of the Pisces twosome. In Greek mythology, the fish represent Aphrodite and her son Eros, joined together with ropes at The Vee. In this way, mother and son will never be parted.
Starting again at the Great Square, gaze down past the Circlet to the bright star Fomalhaut. It’s by far the brightest star in the otherwise dim constellation Piscis Austrinus, the Southern Fish, and the third member of our Sky Map’s fishy trio (Fish #3). One translation of Fomalhaut is “the mouth of the southern fish.”
Aquarius and Capricornus
Above Fomalhaut are the stars of Aquarius, the Water Bearer. Aquarius is often depicted as pouring water from an urn down into the fish’s “mouth” (Fomalhaut). 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 tail of a fish has mythological origins dating back more than 4,000 years.
At lower left flows a large bend of the River Eridanus. Much of this ancient river lies out of sight below the horizon at this time of year. Above Eridanus swims sprawling Cetus, the Sea Monster (or Whale).
The final creature of the celestial sea is not found in The Water itself. Return your attention to Enif, 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, Delphinus is 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 map below to enlarge (PDF).
Sky map produced using Chris Marriott’s Skymap Pro
How to Read the Sky Map
Our sky map does not show the entire sky which would be almost impossible. Instead, the monthly map focuses on a particular region of the sky where something interesting is happening that month. The legend on the map always tells you which direction you should facing, based on midnight viewing. For example, if the map legend says “Looking Southeast,” you should face southeast when using the map.
The map is accurate for any location at a so-called “mid northern” latitude. That includes anywhere in the 48 U.S. states, southern Canada, central and southern Europe, central Asia, and Japan. If you are located substantially north of these areas, objects on our map will appear lower in your sky, and some objects near the horizon will not be visible at all. If you are substantially south of these areas, everything on our map will appear higher in your sky.
The items labeled in green on the sky map are known as asterisms. These are distinctive star patterns that lie within constellations. When getting your bearings under the stars, it’s often easiest to spot an asterism and use it as a guide to finding the parent constellation.
The numbers along the white “Your Horizon” curve at the bottom of the map are compass points, shown on degrees. As you turn your head from side to side, you will be looking in the compass direction indicated by those numbers. The horizon line is curved in order to preserve the geometry of objects in the sky. If we made the horizon line straight, the geometry of objects in the sky would be distorted.