Mercury spends the first three weeks of November just below brilliant Venus. Look for it just above the southwestern horizon shortly after sunset.
Venus can be seen low in the southwest during evening twilight. On Nov. 26, a thin crescent moon will be positioned close to Venus.
Mars rises in the east shortly after midnight and glows high in the south during morning twilight. On the mornings of Nov. 9-12, the Red Planet passes close to the blue-white star Regulus.
For centuries, people thought that Earth was at the center of everything in the heavens. Our solar system actually lies about 30,000 light-years from the center of the Milky Way galaxy, in a relatively boring region compared to the areas near the core.
Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt
Bright Jupiter rises in the east during evening twilight. It's a perfect time to view the immense planet and its four large Galilean moons with a telescope. On the evening of Nov. 9, Jupiter will be close to a nearly full moon.
Saturn rises in the east-southeast predawn sky, climbing higher each morning as the month progresses.
Daylight Saving Time ends at 2 a.m. on Nov. 6 for most parts of the United States.
OUR HOME GALAXY
''We have children who grow up without ever seeing the Milky Way. It's sad.'' - Phil Cowell
Today, the vast majority of people in this country know much more about the sexual exploits of our politicians and Hollywood celebrities, the personal lives of ''American Idol'' stars, and the dubious escapades of many of our professional athletes than they do about our incredibly fascinating home galaxy, the Milky Way. Far too many students come away from years of schooling with just a scant knowledge of what the universe that completely encircles the Earth is all about. Here are some facts to ponder:
Without using any optical aid, we can see about 2,500 individual stars in a clear dark sky from any one place on Earth at any one time. All of the stars you can see without the aid of a telescope are in the Milky Way galaxy.
It is estimated that there are at least 400 billion stars in our galaxy.
The Milky Way is flat (a disk-shaped barred spiral) but very, very large. If you could travel at light speed (fast enough to orbit the Earth seven times in one second), it would take you nearly 120,000 years to go from one side of our galaxy to the other side.
More than half of the stars are actually members of double or multiple star systems, where two or more stars orbit around each other, bound by gravity.
The distance to our nearest neighbor star, Proxima Centauri, is 4.2 light-years. A light-year is the distance light (hurtling along at 186,000 miles each second) travels in one year, and it equals 5,865,696,000,000 miles.
The disk and central bulge of the Milky Way Galaxy formed over 12 billion years ago. Our solar system, including Earth, arose 4.5 billion years ago.
Since most stars probably have a retinue of planets encircling them, it is estimated that at least 50 billion planets exist in our galaxy, 800 million of which are predicted to lie in a habitable zone and could possibly possess conditions to allow life to form.
There are billions, upon billions, upon billions of other galaxies in the known universe, each containing hundreds of billions of stars.
Over 90 percent of our body mass is composed of star dust since all of the elements, except for hydrogen and helium, are created within the stars.
A neutron star rotating at 1,122 times per second has been discovered in our galaxy. That rotational speed is faster than an airplane propeller. One spoonful of that neutron star would weigh more than 10 billion tons on Earth.
After a star has consumed all of its fuel, it can implode in on itself and then quickly explode in one of the most violent events known. Humans have observed only six supernovae in the Milky Way galaxy during the last 1,000 years.
Our solar system lies in the galaxy's boondocks, about 30,000 light-years from the center. When discovered, this fact shocked a lot of religious believers who thought that we were located at the center of everything.
When you look toward the constellation Sagittarius, you will see the brightest central portion of the galaxy.
Earth is moving through space in a number of different ways. As you read this, you are actually moving at great speed as the Earth rotates, revolves around the sun, moves with the sun around the galaxy, and hurtles through space with the galaxy. Earth is spinning at close to 1,000 mph at the equator. We're also revolving around the sun at an orbital speed of 67,000 mph. Both the Earth and sun are moving through space at about 43,000 mph in the direction of the bright star Vega. The entire Galaxy is also in a spinning motion similar to a gigantic pinwheel, moving at a rotational speed of 583,000 mph. Even at that velocity, it takes our sun roughly 225 million years to complete one full galactic rotation. Since the dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago, the sun has traveled about one-third of the way around the center of the Milky Way.
Remember, in the time it takes you to read just one short sentence, you will have moved many hundreds of miles through space, never to return to your previous location. This high-speed travel continues on throughout every second of your life and beyond.
Editor's note: This monthly guide to the stars is from the Marshall Martz Memorial Astronomical Association, the Southern Tier Astronomy Recreation Society and The Post-Journal. For further information, contact the M.M.M.A.A. at www.martzobservatory.org or S.T.A.R.S. at www.UpStateAstro.org/stars/stars.html.