Astro-Landscape Photography Notes for November 2018
Haystack Rock, Milky Way, and Setting Moon. This photos was taken 4 minutes before the Moon set and 28 minutes after the Milky Way Core set. Don’t pack up your gear because the Moon is out and the Milky Way Core has set, there are still awesome photos to be taken. Photo taken with Sony a7III, Sigma 14mm DG HSM Art at ISO 3200, f/2.4, 20 sec.

The following information is designed with the Astro-Landscape Photographer in mind. I searched the web for information about astronomical objects that were presented in a condensed form that a landscape photographer could use to plan interesting photographs. I couldn’t find any I liked, so I made this list for myself. After putting all this together, I figured I’d put it on the web for others to use so I expanded the scope to include information for a world-wide audience. 

Please Note: All times are given in UTC, Coordinated Universal Time. Your local times may vary based on your location. If you’re unfamiliar with UTC, check out the excellent description at

Even with that information, it can sometimes be confusing converting UTC times to your local time. To help with that, try for converting specific a UTC time to your local time.

November Highlights

There are two highlights for this month –

  1. Three Visible Planets in a Row. Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars, in that order, will all be in a row across in the evening sky. The only catch is Jupiter is low in the sky during dusk.
  2. Winter Milky Way time begins in the Northern Hemisphere. And of course, Summer Milky Way time begins in the Southern Hemisphere. Even though the Milky Way Core is soon to be hidden by the glare of the sun, there’s still the outer arms of our galaxy that are visible in our night skies. In addition, the Andromeda Galaxy is visible as well. It’s nearly 5 degrees across, so it shows up well in even the widest lenses.


Unfortunately, free time was short this month and I’m going to have to take a break. I’ll return next month with a couple new articles.

Milky Way Core (MWC) Best Visibility – November 1st to 2nd  

The Milky Way Core is still visible world-wide, but it is only visible in the Northern Hemisphere for a couple nights at the very start of the month. As the MWC is a little higher in the Southern Hemisphere, there is a bit more time there before the Core is swallowed by the Sun’s glare. It will not be visible in December as the Sun moves through the constellation Sagittarius passing nearby to the MWC.

Nighttime by Latitude

The long hours of true nighttime have returned to all northern latitudes. Summer is just around the corner in the Southern Hemisphere and nighttime is slowly disappearing.  

Nighttime by Latitude

Northern Hemisphere  
65° N More than 10 hours each night at start, 12.5 hours by the end.
60° N More than 10 hours each night at start, 12 hours by the end.
55° N More than 10 hours each night at start, nearly 12 hours by the end.
40° N More than 10 hours each night at start, 11 hours by the end.
20° N More than 10 hours each night all month
Southern Hemisphere Nighttime is getting shorter.
35° S More than 7 hours each night at start, 6 hours by the end.
50° S Less than 5 hours of at the start, but only 1 hour by months end.

Milky Way Core (MWC) Visibility

There’s very little time left to photograph the Milky Way Core for this year. For mid-northern latitudes, the Milky Way Core sets around by 8 PM at the start of November. It’s lost in the glare of the sun and not going to rise again until the start of February next year. Fortunately, there’s no Moon to interfere with it this year at the start of November.   

Southern Hemisphere viewers have a bit more time, as the Milky Way Core is actually located about 30 degrees below the Celestial Equator.

Milky Way Core Visibility

45 N Latitude

November 1-2 The ONLY time the Core of the Milky Way is visible for this month!
November 3-30 MWC never rises about the horizon at this latitude during nighttime.  

35 S Latitude

November 1-6 About 2.5 hours of Milky Way visibility on the 1st. The Milky Way stretches horizontally across the sky, low on the horizon.
November 7-10 2 hours of nighttime visibility on the 7th, 1 hour on the 10th before the moon starts to interfere.   
November 11-24 Interference from the moon.
November 25-27 25 to 15 minutes in these final days before the Milky Way Core disappears into the sun’s glare. The last chance for the Southern Hemisphere.
November 28-30 Lost in the glare of the sun. MWC never rises about the horizon at this latitude during nighttime.  


November starts with a waning crescent moon, just past Last Quarter and rising well after midnight. The new moon is on the 7th, so the first half of the month will have moonless evenings. By the 11th, a thin crescent moon appears in the evening sky. At month’s end, the moon is about 22 days old and is at last quarter.

Lunar Phases

11/07 16:02 UTC  New Moon  
11/15 14:54 UTC First Quarter Waxing Gibbous
11/23 05:39 UTC Full Moon  
11/30 00:19 UTC Third/Last Quarter Waning Gibbous
Lunar Trivia – American-Centric Traditional Moon Names for November
Farmer’s Almanac:

Supposedly from “Native Americans” of the NE and Eastern USA

Beaver Moon – Either it’s time to hunt beaver before the ponds froze over or people noticed these amazing animals were making final preparations for the coming winter.
Anglo-Saxon Blōtmonath – the month of blood sacrifices. While the purpose of this mid-autumnal sacrifice has been lost to time, it would certainly be a good time to sock away some good luck for the coming winter. In 725 CE, the Northumbrian monk St. Bede wrote in his treatise De temporum ratione (The Reckoning of Time), “Blod-monath is month of immolations, for it was in this month that the cattle which were to be slaughtered were dedicated to the gods.”



   Nothing of note.



Highlights of the Month

Three Planets in a Row. Having three bright planets in the evening sky  end this month. Jupiter has entered the glare of the setting sun. It will be lost in just the first few days of November.
Saturn and Mars near the Milky Way Core As in recent months, November offers a good opportunity to get a couple planets in proximity to the Milky Way Core (MWC). Even though Jupiter is soon to be gone from the evening sky, Mars and Saturn are still near the MWC. Mars is moving in closer from the east and Saturn still nearly dead center to the MWC. It’s still a good opportunity photographically. But both are dimming as the month proceeds.

Planetary Roundup

Mercury Mercury reaches greatest elongation east on November 6th. That’s when it will be at its highest point in the evening sky. Then it starts moving back into the Sun’s glare. It’s close to Jupiter at this point as well. In the Northern Hemisphere, look for them very low on the western horizon about 30 minutes after sunset. In the Southern Hemisphere, Mercury will be higher in the sky than Jupiter, setting nearly 2 hours after the sun on the 1st. It quickly climbs higher into the evening sky for nearly a week but moves back in the glare of the sun in the next two weeks.

If you’ve never noticed Mercury before, this month is a great time to find it. Use Jupiter to guide you to where Mercury is.

Venus Venus become the “Star” of this month’s planets – the “Morning Star”, that is.

It moves out of the Sun’s glare at the start of November and reaches its greatest brightness on November 30th. At that point, it starts to climb well up into the morning sky.

Venus passes by Spica, a bright star, on November 17th. It passes within 1.5 degrees. The pair could be photographically interesting.

A side note: It’s possible to see Venus in the daytime sky, if one knows where to look. At the end of November, try following Venus as sunrise approaches. Once the sun is up, use an object like a building to block the sun and its glare. If you’ve been following Venus, it’s quite like you’ll be able to see it even though it’s daytime!

Mars Mars starts the month well above the southern horizon during blue hour at mid-northern latitudes. It climbs higher into the sky as the month continues. It still shines brightly, a bit east of the Milky Way Core. At 35° S, Mars is very high in the NE sky at the start of evening.

Like last month, Mars will lose about half of its brightness. Look for its distinctive red color. Hurry and catch it before it gets too dim to stand out.

Trivia – The Martian Winter Solstice is on November 16th for the Martian northern hemisphere.

Jupiter Jupiter moves into the glare of the setting sun at the beginning of November. By the 7th of November, it is mere degrees above the horizon 30 minutes after sunset.

However, at 35° S, it’s much higher in the sky and sets about 90 minutes after sunset at the start of November. But by the end of the month, it’s only about an hour behind the sun in setting.

Jupiter passes behind the Sun on November 26th on its way towards the morning sky for December.

Saturn Saturn continues to move along with the Milky Way Core. Both are about to head into the glare of the sun and set shortly after reaching its highest point in the sky for an observer at 40° N. For Southern Hemisphere viewers, Saturn starts the evening high in the western sky, setting around 10 PM. By the end of the month it sets about 2 hours after sunset.

Telescope: Even though the rings of Saturn are nearly a year past their maximum tilt, they are still an amazing sight to see. If you can view it through a telescope, look before it moves too far around the sun to get a good view.

Uranus Well up before sunset and reaching its highest point in the night sky around 9PM. Uranus reaches opposition on November 23rd.
Neptune Already risen in the southeast at sunset, Neptune is a little to the east of Mars and thus sets shortly after Mars.
Pluto Really, if you don’t think Pluto is a planet, check out the photos from the New Horizons space probe. There are dunes of windblown methane ice crystals on it!

It’s located about halfway between Saturn and Mars. If you look in this area for a second or two, you’ll certainly have a few photons that travelled from Pluto hit your retina! But it’s only Magnitude 14 so you’ll need a big scope to see it as an actual point in the sky. And its about to be lost in the glare of the sun next month.


Lunar Conjunctions

Note – The times given are for the closest approach. As the moon moves relatively quick across the sky, visibility of the closet approach depends highly on your location.

Date – UTC Objects Deg


Moon Age Moon Phase Comments

Rating, 5=Best, 0=Worst

2018-11-06 02:24 Moon + Venus 9° 32′ 28 days New Moon In the Sun’s Glare.

0 out of 5

2018-11-08 17:37 Moon + Jupiter 3° 46′ 1 days Waxing Crescent In the Sun’s Glare.

0 out of 5

2018-11-09 11:35 Moon + Mercury 6° 43’ 2 days Waxing Crescent In the Sun’s Glare.

1 out of 5

2018-11-11 15:33 Moon + Saturn 1° 27′


4 days Waxing Crescent Saturn is dim compared to the Moon,

3 out of 5

2018-11-16 04:19 Moon + Mars 0° 59′ 9 days Waxing Gibbous A close pairing, but Mars is dim next to Moon.

3 out of 5


Planetary Conjunctions

None in July 2018  

Meteor Showers



Southern Taurid:


Four Showers this Month

The Orionid, Southern Taurid, Northern Taurid, and Leonid showers are active this month. Unfortunately, none one of these showers is expected to be spectacular this month…

Planning ahead –

December will bring the Geminid meteor shower, one of the strongest showers of the year. The Geminids are active from December 4th to December 16th, with the peak expected to occur on the nights of December 13 and 14. They have a Zenith Hourly Rate of 120 and are often bright and intensely colored. They are also distinctive in that they have good activity before midnight. Definitely plan on getting out and catching them if you can!

Orionids – Peak October 21st

The Orionids are a medium strength shower but sometimes they do reach higher hourly rates. They typically produce about 25 meteors at maximum. They had several years (2006-2009) where 50-75 per hour were reached. Due to the this year’s conditions, expect to see about 10 per hour.

The Radiant is to the northeast of the star Betelgeuse in the constellation Orion. It lies in SE skies for the Northern hemisphere and NE for Southern. This shower is associated with the famous Halley’s Comet.  

However, this year the peak maximum is expected to occur during the afternoon hours for North America. In addition, a waxing gibbous, nearly full moon is up for much of the night. Try aiming your camera to the north with the moon behind you for the best chance to capture and meteors. The radiant is highest in the sky before sunrise.


Best Seen From: Either hemisphere

Maximum Hourly Rate = 25

Meteor Velocity = Swift – 41 miles/sec, 67 km/sec

Associated Comet = 1P/Halley. Yes, that Halley’s Comet.


Southern Taurid – Peak November 5th 

If you see a meteor that’s not an Orionid in November, it is probably a Southern Taurid. Especially if it’s a fireball. They are a weak to medium strength shower and typically produce at most 5 meteors per hour at maximum.

They are known for colorful fireballs which occur throughout the months of September, October, and November. In 2005 there was a Taurid fireball “swarm” with bright, slow-moving fireballs. The radiant is from the constellation Taurus.


Best Seen From: Either hemisphere

Maximum Hourly Rate = 5

Meteor Velocity = 17 miles/sec (slow) – 27km/sec

Associated Comet = 2P/Encke

Northern Taurid – Peak November 10th 

The Northern Taurids are very similar to the Southern Taurids. They are active from October 19th to December 10th. The radiant is from the constellation Taurus, from just a little bit north of where the Southern Taurids radiate.


Best Seen From: Either hemisphere

Maximum Hourly Rate = 5

Meteor Velocity = Medium, 18 miles/sec (30km/sec)

Associated Comet = 2P/Encke


Leonids – Peak November 18th  

The Leonids are a medium strength shower that expected from November 15th to 20th. They typically produce about 20 meteors per hour at peak.

The Radiant is to the east northeast for the Northern Hemisphere and NE for Southern skies. The radiant is highest in the sky just before sunrise, close to the horizon. Due to it being so low in the sky, the hourly rate will probably closer to 6 per hour. Not very impressive…


Best Seen From: Either hemisphere

Zenith Hourly Rate = 15

Meteor Velocity = Swift, 44 miles/sec (71km/sec)

Associated Comet = 55P/Tempel–Tuttle


Aurora Outlook

For up to the minute aurora forecasts, check out the information at For an animated forecast maps for both northern and southern hemisphere, try

NOAA publishes a 27-day Outlook of Geomagnetic Indices While these are only predictions, they are based on the They are updated on every Monday at 1500 UTC and list the highest daily K values.

As of the time of writing (Nov. 2nd), it is predicting no events at Kp 6 or higher for the month. Several days with Kp 4 or 5 activity are predicted up to November 11th, but then it’s expected to be Kp 2 for the next two weeks.  

Solar Cycle 24 Ending

As we approach the end of Solar Cycle 24, the outlook for solar activity that causes the aurora is expected to increase in the next several years. Despite the current Solar Cycle being very low in activity, aurora activity has been occasionally spectacular. Look for auroras to increase in the next few years. There was even a Kp5 (auroras are measured on a scale of 0 to 9) at the end of August, so even though we’re in a period of very low overall activity, there can still be occasionally high activity.

Northern Hemisphere Good – night skies are definitely dark enough for good viewing.
Southern Hemisphere Poor viewing outlook.

Noctilucent Clouds

“Night clouds” are a tenuous, cloud-like phenomena in the upper atmosphere. They are made of ice crystals and are only visible in a deep twilight. Noctilucent clouds are typically visible at higher latitudes in each hemisphere but can occasionally be seen at lower latitudes when the sun is well below the horizon.             

Northern Hemisphere from 50° to 70° Not likely to be visible.
Southern Hemisphere from 50° to 70° Opportunities are increasing as the sun’s path moves south. Look in the direction of where the sun is as it moves below the southern horizon.

ISS and Satellites

Go to and sign up for flyover alerts. Usually show up about 12 hours before the flyover. They tell the time, compass directions, angular elevation, and length of time of the flyover. Check for your location as the time of the flyover greatly affects the visibility of the ISS.

ISS Flyovers

Northern Hemisphere It’s still a good time of year to see ISS flyovers even though the sun is moving further south.
Southern Hemisphere Opportunities to see longer flyovers are increasing as the summer months are approaching.


ISS Transits of the Sun or Moon

There is a possibility that the ISS will pass directly between any location on Earth and the Moon or the Sun. These transits are highly dependent on where the observer is located. And higher latitudes decrease the chances of these transits. The best way to find if a transit will happen nearby, go to

Since the ISS is moving at about 17,000 mph (27,000 km/hr), transits happen quickly! Lasting from about 5 seconds to less than one second. Since these transits happen so quickly, you need to plan! Instead of trying to see the transit and then triggering your shutter by hand, have your camera set up and then either shoot HD or 4K video or have the camera shoot at it’s fastest frame rate. You’ll get more frames shooting video, especially if you have a camera that can shoot at 120 fps.

For Solar Transits, make sure you use a solar filter that meets ISO 12312-2:2015 Requirements. The same filter that you got for the Great American Solar Eclipse last year will work well. Don’t trust your camera to a standard photographic ND filter as they will most likely not filter out Infrared light. You will risk frying your camera sensor by not having the proper filter.  


Nothing of note this month.  

International Dark Sky Association

Dark Sky locations help greatly with photographing the Milky Way. To help readers of this blog, I’m listing a dark sky location each month that readers might be interested in visiting. For more information, I’d like to recommend visiting the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) website at The IDA maintains a list of some of the world’s best dark sky locations. They are also dedicated to educating people about light pollution and how to reduce it.


If you find any info that needs clarification or correction for this Astro-Landscape Note, please email me at


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