Discover the night sky

In November

Also find out how
you can be a
citizen scientist

... What's in the sky | at a glance
In November, the night is getting very short. The Sun is setting at 8pm and rises at 6am. The Galactic centre sets at sunset. Orion and the edge of the galaxy rise after sunset. The Magellanic Clouds are finally in a very good position to observe.

Explore some stellar topics this month: A Comprehensive Table of Contents

As you learn more about the night sky, why don’t you

Join a Globe at Night survey as a citizen scientist

Globe at Night is a citizen science programme where people measure the darkness of the night sky. 

A study conducted by researchers from the GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences, the Ruhr-Universität Bochum and the US National Science Foundation’s NOIRLab, dubbed the “Globe at Night” Citizen Science Project, included 50,000 naked eye night sky observations made by volunteers between 2011 and 2022.

It revealed that satellite measurements misreported the amount of existing light pollution: (1) by missing the horizontal light  – such as light from advertising or billboards. (2) because current satellites measuring it are less sensitive to blue light.

Just like the 50,000 citizen scientists participating in the study, you can help for the 2023 round. This is also a great opportunity to know your night sky. 

At Star Safari, we encourage all our visitors to become a citizen scientist and help Globe at Night figure out how much energy we, humans, waste, illuminating the skies at night. Nestled within the world’s 21st Dark Sky Reserve in Wairarapa, Star Safari isn’t just a destination—it’s a movement. 

Through Spaceward Bound New Zealand, we provide educational programmes for schools that explain the effects of light pollution to students and teachers. We also include Globe at Night. 

Also check out Look After Our Night Sky exhibition we created to support the announcement for the Wairarapa Dark Sky Reserve. 🌟🌌🔭

All you need to do is count the number of stars on your street (or any place you like really) and report it anonymously to Globe at Night.

Below are a couple of articles you can read about Globe at night

Globe at night

What’s Globe at Night looking at this month:

The measurements taken for the Globe at Night must be done on a moonless night. This is why Globe at Night recommends they are done around the New Moon.

Plan your stargazing

It might sound silly because everyone knows that stargazing is done outside, at night and if is not cloudy but you would be surprised how much planning goes into it.

First, the sky is genuinely dark when the Sun is 12 degrees below the horizon. This is what is called night. For astrophotography, you wish to have a sky as dark as possible. 


Twilight is the period between sunset and night. During that time, we indirectly see scattered light from the Sun after it sets.

For a successful stargazing night, you must know your sunset and sunrise times and the phase of the Moon,
And, of course, your targets for the night, that is, what are you planning to look at?

Favourite astronomy / space apps

SkySafari 7 Pro

A Review of SkySafari 7 Pro

The app we use to navigate around the night sky is SkySafari 7 Pro. Developed by Simulation Curriculum Corp, this app is a great way to learn about stars, planets and deep sky objects.

Read More »

What's in the sky

The Milky Way

By definition, the Milky Way is the sum of 150 billion stars, so bright that from Earth we can see them as a continuous band of light. Some of these stars we can resolve (stargazer’s slang for distinguish) with our eye, some other with binoculars and telescopes. 

The Milky Way is so striking here in New Zealand that everyone should find directions by it. By the way, the Pole Star is overrated (you would know if you ever spent lots of time trying to find it). On top of that, is not even visible from New Zealand. So, if you need directions here, just follow the Milky Way. It will lead you to the Southern Cross. The Southern Cross is in the Milky Way. A few more steps and you will know precisely where the south is.

Stars of highest apparent magnitude

This is the correct way of saying brightest stars as viewed from Earth.

Just because a star is bright, it doesn’t mean is also close.

Alpha and Omega

A great example of the deceiving way in which things appear to the unaided eye at night.

Astronomers designated “alpha” to name the brightest stars in a constellation and “omega” the dimmest. 

Here is an example of Alpha Centauri (photo by NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope) and Omega Centauri (photo by Sam @spacesamuel)

Alpha and Omega also means the beginning and the end, a very powerful symbol. 

We love keeping an eye on these two objects. From Star Safari, Wairarapa, NZ they are circumpolar and so they are always in the sky. 

Circumpolar Stars

Stars of the circumpolar region never set never rise, they move around in a circle in 23 hours and 56 minutes. 

Because of that, they are at different heights in the sky at different times of the night or of the year if you look at them just after sunset. 

The Milky Way traverses a section of the circumpolar region. 

Other asterism are The Fish in the Frying Pan, The Diamond Cross, the False Cross. 

Canopus and Achernar are also circumpolar stars as seen from New Zealand and so are the Magellanic Clouds, our pet galaxies. 

The Moon

The Moon is the enemy of the Milky Way, and faint objects observing. It casts so much light that dim, deep sky objects wash out in the Moonlight. The Moon is like a giant reflector, reflecting light from the Sun. And yet, according to NASA, the Moon has a very low albedo: 0.07. Albedo is the amount of light reflected by an object compared to the light it receives. So the Moon only reflects 0.07% of the light it receives from the Sun, yet it is so bright!

Remember to always check out the Moon when you plan your stargazing.

This can be particularly disappointing if you plan to photograph the night sky.

Moon Facts 101

The full Moon is up; let’s go stargazing!

No. Stargazing is worst at full Moon. Even when looking at the Moon through a telescope, we must use filters to lower its brightness in the eyepiece, otherwise is way too bright. Yet, for some mysterious reason, observatories are most visited at full Moon.

The Sun this month

The Sun is transiting the star sign of Libra from the 1st of November to the 23rd of November and the star sign of Scorpius from the 24th of November until the end of the month.

The Sun is transiting the star sign of Libra from the 1st of November to the 23rd of November and the star sign of Scorpius from the 24th of November until the end of the month.

Sunrise: 6:05 AM on the first day of November and earlier and earlier every day so that on the 30th of November, it will rise at 5:40 AM. Sunset: 7:58 PM on the 1st of November and later and later 8:32 PM on the 30th of November. This makes the night 6.5 hours long at the beginning of the month and 5 hours at the end of November. As you can see, this month, we don’t have too many hours to explore the skies. Of course, we start seeing stars as soon as the civil twilight occurs and then it gets darker and darker with the nautical twilight and the astronomical twilight; these amount to about four hours in total (after sunset and before sunrise), but the best time for deep sky observations is when the sky is dark.

Come stargazing with us in Wairarapa

Main objects to watch this month

In Aotearoa, in November, just after sunset, the Milky Way lies on the horizon, just like the ocean surrounding us from all directions. It is a very beautiful metaphor, but this means the Milky Way is also harder to see. We look at it through a layer of atmosphere and quite often through light pollution.

After Winter and Spring have spoiled us with all the fantastic objects in Scorpius and Sagittarius, it is hard to match that richness of deep sky objects that lay at the centre of our galaxy. This is simply because when we look towards the galactic centre, we see more stars, clusters and nebulae than anywhere else in the sky. If there are no planets in the night sky and you don’t have a good telescope handy, we are not even going to mention “the joy” of having the Moon spilling light pollution over your deep sky objects at night. The suitable deep sky objects in November can hide in plain sight. You have put some work into learning how to find them. 

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The Magellanic Clouds are in an excellent position to observe the Sculptor Galaxy — almost at zenith and the Great Square of Pegasus, which are fun things to look at. 

Three Royal Stars are in the sky in November, and here in Wellington, New Zealand, we are looking at a Māori asterism called Te Waka O Tama Rereti (or Tamarereti), which is the great canoe that placed the stars in the sky. Fomalhaut is our favourite star this month, the loneliest star in the sky – as it’s called and the Pleiades are back in the east just in time for Halloween. 

A wee table for those who like lots of detail

This table gives you by default what’s in the sky for the dates that you are browsing. If you wish to look at a different month, use the arrows to change the month. 

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The Grus Quartet is one of our all times favourite and in a very good position to observe this time of the year.

Stargaze with us from Wairarapa

If you are in Wairarapa, come stargazing with us.

Wairarapa is now an official Dark Sky Reserve – find out more in our Look after our night sky exhibition here.

We have the best telescope equipment for public viewing on the North Island, with the most extensive range of powerful telescopes for stargazing. And, of course, we have hot chocolate.

Experience astronomy and space in virtual reality VR when the sky is cloudy.

When we are not doing stargazing with the public or with our own telescopes, we turn to SLOOH to explore the Universe. If you are really passionate about astronomy, want to learn more or just expand your knowledge, SLOOH is the next level. See you there, make sure you join the Star Safari club and say hi. 

Learn astronomy online

What is SLOOH?

Patented technology to explore space.  Robotic, mountaintop, online telescopes, live 18+ hours per day.

Curated journey of discovery. Space is a vast wilderness and Slooh is like a national park, with trails and guides. 

Communal exploration of the Universe. Learn from fellow members using the telescopes.