See gibbous moon rise first, then Taurus the Bull’s brightest star, Aldebaran.
Constellations and planets approximate positions November 2 – 15. Moonrise later every night.
Illustration: Judy Isacoff/Starry Night
Night is fast overtaking day. During the course of November, day length will shrink from 10 hours 26 minutes to 9 hours 30 minutes, when there will be only 15 minutes left to lose in December. Earth-centered celebrations of the harvest and fellowship in November quickly lead into preparations for winter solstice holidays, when light is foremost in our cultural festivals.
For our ancestors, oil lamps, candles and open fires lit the darkness. To make light was a triumph. Natural materials, gathered from the wild and farmed, were the hard-earned fuel for creating light. Living by the radiance of the Sun, moon and stars was optimized, both physically and spiritually. Today, excessive and poorly designed artificial light has become a pollutant that blocks starlight from view. In the countryside and urban centers, the memory of star-filled night skies inspires holiday décor: twinkling lights, stars placed atop trees, colored sparkles on fabric to resemble cosmic light on snow. Increasingly, lit environments designed to be winter wonderlands replace contact with the complex sensory experiences of the natural world. Mostly, lights turned on with the flip of a switch have divorced us from the source of production and the responsibility to use light wisely.
Now to the visual imperative of the long night season! Tonight, see the waning gibbous moon, two-nights past full, rise in the east-northeast around 7pm, followed by bright star Aldebaran. Enjoy bright Mars, Saturn and Jupiter and all the constellations as depicted in the star chart, above.