Southern Colorado Skies / November 19-25, 2017

Consider a planetarium program to help you plan your observations. There are many commercial products available; an excellent program (STELLARIUM) is available free at


Early this week Mercury will be visible in the west at the southern tip of Scorpius, with Saturn and the Moon not far above it.

Sunday through Tuesday (November 19-21)

As shown in the above graphic, the Moon takes a tour in the early southeastern sky, accompanied by Saturn and Mercury. Binoculars may be required to get a good view of Mercury.



Have you gotten used to the switch back to Standard Time yet? The winter solstice is still more than a month away, but does the Sun appear to you to be setting almost as early as it ever does? You’re right! The date that the Sun sets its earliest for us in Pueblo is near December 7th – this week we are within 4 minutes of that time.

TRIVIA BAR BET: The Sun sets just about as early on Thanksgiving as on Christmas, even though Christmas is much closer to winter solstice. (The daylight at solstice is still the shortest because the offset is made up by the Sun not rising its latest until January 4th. Explain to your non-astronomical friends about the tilt of Earth’s axis and the eccentricity of Earth’s orbit.)


Mercury (in Ophiuchus) and Saturn (in Sagittarius):

Mercury and Saturn will be visible in the early dusk in the southwest, as shown in the above graphic, about 20 or 30 minutes after sunset. Binoculars will help spot Mercury.

Venus (in Libra), Mars (in Virgo), and Jupiter (in Libra):

These three planets all rise during dawn in the east-southeast.

Mars is up first, just above Spica in Virgo. As dawn begins, look to the lower left for Jupiter. Finally, Venus rises to the lower left of Jupiter. (see the following graphic, taken last week.)

Uranus (in Pisces):

High in the southeast by mid-evening.

Neptune (in Aquarius):

Also high in the south by mid-evening.


The following data are based on my location in Pueblo West, Colorado. If you live well outside this area, you should consider checking this information for your location in order to be assured of accurate times, elevations, etc. If you’re unfamiliar with Iridium flares, check out my article at:

Sunday (November 19) 6:18:50 p.m. / Magnitude -1.0 / SSE / Elevation 34 degrees

Monday (November 20) 4:44:02 a.m. / Magnitude -2.1 / S / Elevation 23 degrees

Thursday (November 23) 6:03:45 p.m. / Magnitude -6.7 / S / Elevation 33 degrees

Saturday (November 25) 6:23:34 a.m. / Magnitude -3.9 / NNW / Elevation 65 degrees


These are too numerous to list here! If you’re seriously interested, load the ISS DETECTOR app on your smart phone or tablet.

Carpe noctem

Dave Furry

Pueblo West, Colorado

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