Magazine article Natural History

December Nights Out/january Nights Out

Magazine article Natural History

December Nights Out/january Nights Out

Article excerpt

6 The Moon is full at 7:27 a.m. eastern standard time (EST).

8 Mercury passes superior conjunction, on the far side of the Sun.

13 Late this evening, observers should have their best view of this year's Geminid meteor shower-at least until the last-quarter Moon rises around 11:30 p.m.

14 The Moon reaches last quarter at 7:51 a.m. EST; the Geminids should still be very active.

19 Looking low toward the east-south-east horizon at around 5:30 a.m. local time, you'll see a waning crescent Moon, and, sitting about 5 degrees below and to its left, Saturn, shining bright yellow-white.

21 The Sun reaches its southernmost point and begins its six-month return northward. The solstice occurs at 6:03 p.m. EST, the beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and summer in the Southern. The Moon is new at 8:36 p.m. EST.

22 Venus returns to the role of Evening Star this month. Tonight look for it about a half hour after sunset low to the southwest horizon, about 9 degrees; it will remain up for another half hour. Also, the little-known Ursid shower will reach maximum tonight. The radiant lies in Ursa Minor, at the bowl of the Little Dipper, and is up all night, but not until after midnight does it become well-placed above the northern horizon, highest just before dawn. At the peak of this display, about a half dozen Ursids per hour can be expected if sky conditions are excellent.

24 Looking southwest at dusk the crescent Moon and Mars, about 7 degrees to its left, shine brightly.

28 The Moon reaches first quarter at 1:31 p. …

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