The Stars: November

The barren skies of late autumn are with us again.

Centre-stage of this month's constellations is Pegasus. How the ancients configured a square of four stars into a flying horse is almost beyond comprehension. But there was method in their madness. Our ancestors "mapped" treasured stories and legends on to the heavens as an aide-memoire for farmers and sailors to recognise the stars. And the autumn skies are a celestial storybook.

The straggly line of stars to the left of Pegasus could hardly look less like a princess chained to a rock on the shore, about to suffer death at the hands of a sea monster. But that's how the ancients saw Andromeda. She was the daughter of Cassiopeia, the queen of Ethiopia, and her drippy husband, Cepheus. Cassiopeia is a striking W-shaped pattern, while nearby Cepheus is a dim, nondescript shape.

Cassiopeia claimed to Poseidon – the god of the sea – that her daughter was more beautiful than all the sea nymphs. An enraged Poseidon sent a sea monster, Cetus, to ravage her lands. You can see Cetus below Pegasus in the sky: a dim straggle of stars but – to our ancestors – a monster rearing above the horizon. Desperate, Cassiopeia and Cepheus consulted the oracle, whose advice was to sacrifice Andromeda to the monster. Which is how Andromeda happened to be chained to a rock. But everyone reckoned without Perseus, a bright constellation, next to Cassiopeia. Perseus was flying back from killing the gorgon Medusa, a glance at whose face, ringed with writhing serpents, would turn any onlooker to stone.

You can see the gorgon's head in the constellation of Perseus as the variable star Algol. Perseus soared over Ethiopian airspace when he spotted the damsel in distress. Andromeda was seconds from being devoured by Cetus. Swooping down, Perseus whipped Medusa's head out of its bag. In a trice, the beast was turned to stone, and Perseus unleashed the hapless maiden from her bonds. The pair married and lived happily ever after.

What's up

In the first week of November, it's your last chance to spot Comet Hartley 2, which is fading as it moves away from us. If you'd rather not brave the cold, look out for media coverage of pictures from Nasa's Epoxi spacecraft. On 4 November, it will fly past the icy nucleus of Comet Hartley 2, and should send back great close-up views. Debris from another comet, Tempel-Tuttle, will rain into our atmosphere on 17 and 18 November and burn up as the annual Leonid meteor shower. Jupiter is putting on a great show in the south-western sky. During the evening, you'll find the "winter constellations" rising in the east: the hunter Orion, with his adversary Taurus (the bull) and the twins, Castor and Pollux, in the constellation Gemini. Saturn rises in the east around 3am. From mid-month onwards, you'll find Venus in the morning sky before sunrise.

Diary

6: 4.52am New Moon

13: 4.38pm Moon at First Quarter

17/18: Maximum of Leonid meteor shower

21: 5.27 pm Full Moon

28: 8.36 pm Moon at Last Quarter

Sport
The giant banner displayed by Legia Warsaw supporters last night
football
News
news
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
News
Melissa and Joan Rivers together at an NBC event in May 2014
peopleDaughter Melissa thanks fans for 'outpouring of support'
Life and Style
life
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
One in six drivers cannot identify a single one of the main components found under the bonnet of an average car
motoringOne in six drivers can't carry out basic under-bonnet checks
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
i100
Voices
Pupils educated at schools like Eton (pictured) are far more likely to succeed in politics and the judiciary, the report found
voices
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash
tvSimon Cowell blasts BBC for breaking 'gentlemen's agreement' in scheduling war
News
peopleWrestling veteran drifting in and out of consciousness
Arts and Entertainment
Shady character: Jon Hamm as sports agent JB Bernstein in Million Dollar Arm
filmReview: Jon Hamm finally finds the right role on the big screen in Million Dollar Arm
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Research and Insight Analyst (Mathematics Graduate)

£25000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are cur...

IT Support Manager - Staffordshire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Support Manager - Near...

Nursery assistants required for day to day roles in Cambridge

£10000 - £15000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Nursery assistants re...

Recruitment Consultants - Banking & Finance

£20000 - £30000 per annum + OTE £40 - £50K first year: SThree: SThree Group an...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone