November brings long nights perfect for astrophotography. The autumn constellations shine high overhead, displaying a variety of celestial treasures. Taurus shows off its glittering star clusters while Orion rises with nebulae glowing brightly. Andromeda climbs to an optimal position for imaging its beautiful spiral galaxy. Late fall also brings meteor showers, providing opportunities to capture persistent trains and fireballs.
This guide will highlight the best astrophotography targets in November 2023 and provide tips to photograph them in stunning detail. We’ll cover a range of objects from planets to nebulae to galaxies. You’ll learn the science behind these cosmic showpieces and how to reveal their splendor through long-exposure photography. Whether you’re looking to hone your skills or add new celestial subjects to your portfolio, read on for an in-depth astrophotography guide to November’s clear night skies.
- Key November 2023 Astronomy Events
- Photographing Planets in November
- Photographing Star Clusters in November
- Photographing Nebulae in November
- Photographing Galaxies in November
- Photographing the Milky Way in November
- Astrophotography in November – FAQs
Key November 2023 Astronomy Events
Mark your calendars for these major astronomy happenings in November:
- Leonid Meteor Shower Peak – On November 17-18, watch for bright meteors radiating from the constellation Leo. Try capturing persistent trains and fireballs using exposures from 30 seconds to 5 minutes.
- Taurid Meteor Shower – Though past its peak, Taurid meteors can still be photographed in early November. These slow, bright fireballs make spectacular targets.
- Total Lunar Eclipse – A total eclipse of the Moon occurs in the early hours of November 8th. Use exposures from 1/2 to 2 seconds to capture the Moon’s red-hued totality phase.
- New Moons – The moonless nights of November 4th and 30th provide optimal dark skies for deep sky imaging.
Take advantage of clear night skies and late fall constellations to photograph these celestial events. The long nights of November provide the perfect backdrop.
Photographing Planets in November
November provides a great opportunity to photograph bright planets as they move through the evening sky.
Mars remains a prime target, reaching opposition on December 8th. The red planet grows brighter as Earth catches up to it in their orbits around the Sun. Beginners can capture Martian surface details using a steady tripod and telephoto lens in the 200mm to 500mm range. More advanced photographers may use 8″ or larger aperture telescopes with high-quality planetary imaging cameras. Use exposures of 1/15 to 1/30 second.
Jupiter shines high in the southwestern sky after sunset. The gas giant makes a close approach to Earth in late September, so it appears large through telephoto lenses in November. For beginners, a 90mm to 125mm refractor telescope on an equatorial mount can capture Jupiter’s cloud bands and Great Red Spot. More advanced setups may use 8″ reflector telescopes and dedicated planetary cameras. Fast exposures freeze motion.
Saturn rises around midnight in November. Its iconic rings require a steady tripod and the longest telephoto lens or telescope available. Beginners can use a tripod-mounted telephoto lens starting at 300mm. Advanced imagers use telescopes 8″ or larger on motorized mounts and video capture to show the rings’ incredible detail.
For all planets, use ISOs from 100 to 400 to minimize noise. Processing brings out contrasts and sharpness to reveal these planetary showpieces at their best.
Photographing Star Clusters in November
November nights showcase several standout star clusters, providing beginners and advanced stargazers alike opportunities to photograph these celestial jewels.
Pleiades Open Cluster
The Pleiades open cluster remains high in the western sky throughout November. Beginners can capture its tiny dipper shape and blue stars using a basic DSLR and wide-angle lens from 14mm to 35mm. More advanced setups use short telephotos from 85mm to 135mm on tracked mounts for close-ups with minimal noise.
Hyades Open Cluster
The Hyades cluster forms the eye and face of Taurus the Bull. To incorporate it in wider nightscape images, beginners can use wide-angle lenses around 24mm. Tracked telephoto mounts in the 85mm to 200mm range allow close-ups. Stack exposures to maximize detail while preventing star trails.
Perseus Double Cluster
Perseus’ Double Cluster provides a pair of open star clusters to photograph through low magnification, wide fields. Beginners can use camera lenses from 50mm to 85mm. More advanced astrophotographers employ telephoto lenses from 135mm to 200mm on tracked mounts to enable longer exposures that pull out fainter stars.
Photographing Nebulae in November
November brings prime viewing of nebulae as Orion returns to the night sky, displaying glowing clouds of gas and dust.
The Orion Nebula shines below Orion’s Belt as a fuzzy star. Beginners can capture its shape and colors using a camera lens from 50mm to 85mm and an ISO from 800 to 1600. More advanced setups use a tracked equatorial mount and telephoto lens from 100mm to 200mm for sharpness across long exposures.
In Taurus, the Crab Nebula remnants from a supernova explosion can be challenging to photograph. Beginners can start with wide-field shots using a DSLR lens from 50mm to 200mm. More advanced astronomers use 8” or larger telescopes guided with short exposures to reveal intricate filaments.
When processing images, adjust levels and curves to carefully boost contrast and enhance faint nebula details not visible to the naked eye. November delivers ideal clear skies for revealing these stellar nurseries.
Photographing Galaxies in November
November brings long, dark nights perfect for imaging distant galaxies as they rise to optimal viewing positions.
The Andromeda Galaxy reaches a prime spot high in the autumn sky. To find it, look for the distinctive “W” shape of the constellation Cassiopeia. Scan about 15 degrees south to locate the oval smudge of Andromeda’s central bulge. Beginners can capture its faint glow using a lens from 100mm to 200mm. More advanced setups combine telescopes starting at 8” aperture with guided equatorial mounts and cooled astrocams.
The Triangulum Galaxy also climbs high overhead in November. To find it, identify the triangle of stars that give it its name. Using binoculars, scan about halfway between Beta and Gamma Trianguli to spot the elongated smudge of Triangulum with averted vision. Beginners can photograph it using a modest DSLR lens from 50mm to 135mm. Advanced astrophotographers employ telephoto lenses from 200mm to 400mm guided to enable longer exposures and boost fine detail.
Both galaxies require stacking multiple long exposures between 5 to 10 minutes to collect enough light. Process images carefully to control noise and enhance the subtle details only revealed through long-exposure photography.
Photographing the Milky Way in November
As autumn progresses, the Milky Way galaxy continues to provide amazing photographic opportunities as Earth’s vantage point shifts.
Milky Way Core Region
The bright core region of the Milky Way remains high in the southern sky during November evenings. Beginners can capture its dusty star clouds and nebulae using wide-angle lenses from 14mm to 24mm. More advanced photographers incorporate telephoto lenses from 50mm to 135mm on tracked mounts to pull out finer details.
With clear skies, photographers can also target dark nebulae like the Pipe Nebula silhouetted against the Milky Way. Wide-angle lenses from 24mm to 35mm work well. Tracked telephoto setups reveal more structure.
Use the Camera Raw filter in processing to selectively brighten the Milky Way and stars while keeping the dark nebulae dim. Take advantage of November’s long nights to highlight our galaxy’s contrasting features.
Astrophotography in November – FAQs
Here are answers to some common questions about night sky photography in November:
What targets are best for beginners?
The Moon, bright planets like Jupiter and Mars, and Orion Nebula are great for beginners learning astrophotography. They provide easy subjects to practice with camera settings.
Which meteor shower can I photograph?
The Leonid meteor shower peaks on November 17-18. Try capturing persistent trains and fireballs with exposures from 30 seconds to 5 minutes.
What equipment do I need?
Start with a DSLR, tripod, and fast lens. An equatorial mount that tracks the sky allows longer exposures. Eventually add a telescope and astrophotography camera.
How do I reduce noise?
Should I invest in tracking mounts right away?
Start without and learn the basics. Once ready for long exposure deep sky imaging, equatorial tracking mounts become essential.