Winter begins on December 21st, 2008 when the Winter Solstice occurs. The Winter Solstice occurs when the tilt of the Earth is pointed directly away from the Sun. This point marks the beginning of Winter. The Winter Solstice has the shortest amount of daylight and the longest night.
The New Moon for December occurs on Saturday, December 27th which makes the weekend December 27-28 and fantastic weekend for dark sky observing.
Mercury re-emerges from the glare of evening sun around mid-month and will be observable for the last half of the month.
December 28, 2008, Sunset - On the evening of December 28th, we
find Mercury, Jupiter and the very new, waxing, crescent moon
clustered within 5° of each other. Mercury continues to approach
Jupiter until December 30th, when it will be a mere 1°20’ from Jupiter.
Mercury begins December in the constellation Ophiuchus, the Serpent Bearer, until December 9th when it moves into the constellation Sagittarius, the Archer, Finally, on New Years Eve Mercury crosses into the constellation Capricornus, the Sea Goat.
|December 1, 2008, Sunset - Venus begins the month a mere 2°30’ from the planet Jupiter and a 4-day old waxing, crescent moon.|
Venus begins December in the constellation Sagittarius, the Archer, then on December 7th, Venus moves into the constellation Capricornus, the Sea Goat. Finally on December 31st, Venus will cross into the constellation Aquarius, the Water Bearer.
Mars is not observable this month due to it proximity to the glare of the Sun.
Jupiter is located in the constellation Sagittarius, the Archer, for the entire month and is visible during the evening hours. At the beginning of December Jupiter sets around 8:40pm and by the end of the month Jupiter sets around 7:15pm.
Saturn is visible in the early morning hours in December and is located in the constellation Leo, the Lion, until September 2009. Saturn rises around 1:30am at the beginning of the month and by the end of December rises around 11:30pm.
December 15, 2008, Sunrise- At mid-month, Saturn is high in the sky
Uranus is observable in the evening a late hours of December, Setting around 1:15am at the beginning of the month and by the end of the month setting around 11:20pm. Uranus is located in the constellation Aquarius, the Water Bearer, until March 2009.
On December 5m 2008, Sunset - December 5th, the first Quarter Moon
will pass within 3°50’ of Uranus.
Shown here with relitive positions to
Neptune, Venus and Jupiter.
Neptune is located in the constellation Capricornus, the Sea Goat, until March 2010. Neptune is viewable all month in the evening hours. At the beginning of December Neptune sets around 11:05pm and by the end of the month Neptune sets around 9:10pm.
December 26, 2008, Sunset -
On December 26th and 27th, Venus
will pass Neptune within 1°30’.
Shown here relative to Jupiter and
Mercury at Sunset.
Pluto can be found in the constellation Sagittarius until February 2023. Pluto is difficult to observe the first week of December due to its proximity to the glare of sunset. By December 7th Pluto will completely disappear from view for the remainder of the year.
December 1, 2008, Sunset - Pluto’s position at the beginning of
December as it moves into the glare of Sunset. By December 7th it will