Darkest mornings, brightest stars—crescent moon dawn, then dusk, with planets
Winter’s all-night constellations in autumn’s pre-dawn and dawn sky. The red ribbon represents the Milky Way. Background darkness is exaggerated in this rendering. Turn light up on your screen to see details in all illustrations. Schema via StarryNight7 / Judy Isacoff
The week of November 1 through 6 is the best time all year to begin each day under heaven’s brightest stars and constellations – without waking up especially early. In morning darkness at 6am, through twilight, close to 7 o’clock, a view into the cosmos is ours. Find the brightest star in Earth’s skies, Sirius the Dog Star of Canis Major, in the southwest, alluring even through windows. Sirius is still brilliant at 6:40am and visible until close to 7am as the sky brightens and all other stars have faded. Until 6:30, gaze counterclockwise from Sirius to spot Rigel of Orion the Hunter, then Aldebaran of Taurus the Bull, up to Capella the Goat Star and around to Procyon the Little Dog Star. These distant suns and constellations, along with the slightly dimmer Gemini constellation, compose the Winter Circle. Refer to the illustration, above.
Turning to the east-southeast, still in morning darkness and early twilight on November 1 and 2, a waning crescent moon (old moon) is suspended above planet Mercury, which looks like a fairly bright star shining near the horizon. On the 3rd, a filament-thin crescent stands just above Mercury. Above and to Mercury’s left, notice orange star Arcturus, the second brightest star in Earth’s skies. For illustration, click here. New Moon is on the 4th, when the moon disappears behind the Sun. Mercury, too, soon disappears in the Sun’s glare: look by the 6th.
New moon is November 4, 2021 at 21:14 UTC (5:14pm EDT). Then the young moon – a waxing crescent – returns to the west after sunset. You might see it on November 6. You will see it near dazzling Venus, if your western sky is clear to the horizon, on the evenings of November 7 and 8, 2021. Courtesy EarthSky.org
Sunrise is at 7:26am today and 7:31am on Saturday the 6th. The lateness of sunrise is artificial. This is the final week of Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), when clock time is one hour ahead of the Sun. At 2am Sunday the 7th, clocks “fall back” one hour, returning to Eastern Standard Time (EST). Sunrise on the 7th is 6:32am EST. On the 14th sunup is 6:41am.
Follow the moon to its reappearance in the southwest as a waxing crescent on the evening of November 6. Sunset on the 6th, 5:48pm EDT; moonset 7:04pm EDT. Next day, November 7, sunset is at 4:41 EST, moonset 6:55pm EST. Find brilliant planet Venus; then look diagonally to the left, south of Venus, for bright Jupiter and, between those two brightest planets, Saturn.