What’s up? The night sky November – December 2023

In the evening sky at the moment the planets Saturn and Jupiter are in view, joined by Mercury low in the western sky. If you have a small telescope or binoculars, you may be able to see four small dots in a line on either side of Jupiter. These are Jupiter’s moons, Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto, the so-called Galilean Moons after their discovery by Italian scientist Galileo Galilei in 1609. Europa is considered one of the possible places in the Solar System where life may be found. The liquid water beneath the hard ice that covers Europa’s surface makes it a possible habitat for microorganisms. Astrobiologists (they study potential life outside Earth) find this very exciting.

With summer approaching, Scorpius sets in the evening western sky while Orion rises in the East. In November the second brightest star in the night sky, Canopus, is visible once more in the evening.

Four orbs of different patterns and sizes line up next to each other.
A composite image showing the four Galilean moons of Jupiter: Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. These were taken by the Galileo spacecraft in 1996 and 1997 as it orbited Jupiter. Credit: NASA/JPL/DLR
A composite image showing the four Galilean moons of Jupiter: Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. These were taken by the Galileo spacecraft in 1996 and 1997 as it orbited Jupiter. Credit: NASA/JPL/DLR

Rob Hollow, Education Manager, CSIRO