December Astronomy Star Gazing ~~~
Yes! Here is a link to the farmer's almanac with the sky report so you can plan your star gazing for the month of December. Especially if we have clear sky weather. :)
Looking Up: A Stargazer’s Guide to December 2016by Farmers' Almanac Staff | Monday, November 28th, 2016 | From: Astronomy, Featured
There are so many things to see in the sky this the month, including 2 meteor showers, another bright, full Moon, and several celestial pairings!
Special this month: Venus mimics a spectacular “Christmas Star” this month. It’s in the southwest sky at dusk and sets about 3½ hours after sunset.
All times in Eastern Standard Time, for the Northern Hemisphere:
December 2 — Look to the southwest at dusk to see the tiny waxing crescent Moon (only 11% illuminated) pair up with Venus. This pairing should make for some great pictures — share yours with us on our Facebook page!
December 4 — Look to the southwest in the evening to see Venus below the waning crescent Moon. Mars also makes an appearance to the left of the Moon. While Venus is 85 times brighter than Mars, both should be easy to spot, well below the Pleiades star cluster. (Mercury will be hugging the horizon 1 hour after sunset and you may catch a glimpse with binoculars, depending on where you live).
December 7 – First Quarter Moon, 4:03 a.m. In this phase, the Moon looks like a half-Moon in the sky. One-half of the Moon is illuminated by direct sunlight while the illuminated part is increasing, on its way to full.
December 8 – Earliest sunset of 2017 at 40º N. latitude. This comes come some 2 weeks before the winter solstice, not on the solstice as you might think!
December 10 – Look to the east in the evening to spot the nearly-full Moon and Aldebaran, the reddish “eye of the Bull” (in Taurus) pair up in the sky.
December 11 – 13 – Bundle up for the annual Geminid Meteor Showers! These showers will peak on December 13th. Normally one could expect up to see up to 120 meteors hourly with this display, but the Moon’s brilliant light will likely obliterate all but the very brightest meteors (Wait till next year!). Regardless, they’re considered the best meteor showers of the year and it’s worth taking a look. The radiant — that spot in the sky where the meteors will appear to emanate — lies just below and to the right of the bright star Castor in the constellation Gemini (hence the name, “Geminids”). Best viewing after midnight when the radiant point is high in the sky, until dawn, no matter where you are. You might even see an earthgrazer! (link)
December 12 – The nearly-full waxing gibbous Moon is at perigee, its closest point to Earth in its orbit.
December 13 – In the early morning hours across the United States (excluding Alaska), as well as southern and eastern sections of Canada during these overnight hours, observers can watch the nearly-full Moon pass in front of the bright star Aldebaran, the bright reddish star that is the eye of Taurus the Bull. This is known as “occultation.” See a map and times of when this event will take place in your city here.
December 13 – December’s Full Cold Moon will be astronomically full at 7:06 p.m. In this phase, the visible Moon is fully illuminated by direct sunlight. Though the Moon is only technically in this phase for a few seconds, it is considered “full” for the entire day of the event, and appears full for three days.
December 20 – Last quarter Moon, 8:56 p.m. In this phase, the Moon appears as a half Moon in the sky. One-half of the Moon is illuminated by direct sunlight while the illuminated part is decreasing, heading toward the New Moon (invisible) phase.
December 21 — The Winter Solstice, 5:44 a.m. The Sun reaches its farthest point south of the celestial equator so it’s the shortest day of the year in terms of sunrise to sunset. The good news is that the days will start getting longer from here!
December 20-23 -Nature’s annual holiday light show, the Ursid meteor showers, are at their peak. Visible from the north all night, these meteor showers generally produce anywhere from 5 to 15 meteors per hour at their peak (usually on the first full night of winter, Dec. 22). They are the dusty debris left behind in the orbit of Comet Tuttle. There have been a few occasions when the Ursids have surprised observers with a sudden outburst many times their normal hourly rate (over 100 per hour in 1945), but such cases are very few and far between.
December 25 -The tiny waning crescent Moon will be at apogee, its farthest point from Earth in its orbit. Need an easy way to remember? (A)pogee = (A)way.
December 26 – Try to spot this winter’s “The Sparkling Star” or “The Scorching One,” known to us as Sirius, in the constellation of Canis Major, the Big Dog. It will be visible this week just after it has risen above the southeast horizon shortly after 7 p.m. At such a low altitude, the thicker layer of air near to the horizon causes its light to scintillate rapidly, so it will seem to flicker with all the colors of the rainbow.
December 29 – New Moon at 1:53 a.m. At this stage, the Moon is not illuminated by direct sunlight and is completely invisible to the naked eye.
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