Jupiter reigns supreme this month, being the brightest object in the evening skies and reaching a good height by mid-evening in the South East.

The planet is at its closest to Earth for 2023 this month and being well placed, it’s a good time to view it either with binoculars or a small telescope.

Even a small telescope should reveal the disc of the planet and some of the cloud belts.

The four Galilean moons of Jupiter can be seen night to night orbiting the planet (see image which shows the view through a good pair of binoculars), and the movement is even noticeable on the same night if you wait a while.

Whilst the moons will appear as star-like points in small instruments, advanced amateur astronomers using the latest equipment are now managing to image surface details on the moons.  

A NASA/ESA spacecraft was launched on April 14, 2023 to study the three icy moons of Jupiter, which are Ganymede, Callisto, and Europa. Arrival at Jupiter is due in July 2031.

Many other missions have visited since the 1970s. The NASA Juno spacecraft has been orbiting Jupiter for seven years and is still operational, taking highly detailed images of the Jovian atmosphere, with its complex structures of swirling clouds and storms.

The next mission to go will be NASA's Europa Clipper mission. This will specifically explore Jupiter's icy moon Europa and determine whether its underground ocean is habitable. Launch is due in October 2024. 

Venus remains well positioned in the pre-dawn sky and on the 9th November the slim waning crescent Moon will be close by.

Full Moon this month is on the 27th, with the Moon riding high in the sky compared to its low summer path.

The Leonid meteor shower, named as the meteors appear to radiate from a point in that constellation, reaches its annual peak in the early hours of the 18th.

With New Moon being on the 13th, there will be very little moonlight affecting the shower this year. The shower is best observed late evening and into the early hours as the constellation of Leo rises higher in the East.

The shower has moderate activity at a rate of about 15 meteors per hour. The individual meteors are extremely fast, burning up in the Earth’s upper atmosphere at speeds of about 70 km per second.