Archive for December, 2009

December 2009

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

Winter Solstice

Winter begins on December 21st 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.

Lunar Events

The New Moon for December occurs on Wednesday, December 16th, which will make the weekends on December 12th – 13th and Decemeber 19th – 20th as both good weekends for dark sky observing.

There are two Full Moons in December. The first Full Moon occurs on December 1st and is known as the “Full Cold Moon”, “Long Night Moon” or the “Moon Before Yule.”  The second Full Moon occurs on December 31st and is known as the “Full Wolf Moon”, “Old Moon” or “Moon After Yule.”

Because the December 31st Full Moon is the second Full Moon in the calendar month it is also known as a “Blue Moon” by the “Sky and Telescope Rule”.  Also the December 31st Full Moon brings an Umbral Lunar Eclipse visible from Australia, Asia Europe and Africa.





The above movie shows the Umbral Eclipse on December 31st as view from India. Each frame is one minute.





The above movie shows the Umbral Eclipse on December 31st as view from the Moon. Each frame is one minute.

Mercury

Mercury is found in the evening in December.  Mercury begins the month in the constellation Ophiuchus (The Serpent Bearer), and on December 3rd, moves into the constellation Sagittarius (The Archer).

Mercury GWE
Mercury reaches its Greatest Western Elongation on December 18th.
This date provides the Best Evening Views of Mercury as it will be
20°17’47” from the Sun, setting about one hour, 20 minutes after Sunset.

Mercury disappears into the glare of the sunset by December 31st.

Venus

 

Venus is observable in the morning hours of December until December 18th when it disappears into the glare of Sunrise.  Venus

Venus begins the month in the constellation Libra (The Balance) until December 3rd when it moves into the constellation Scorpius (The Scorpion).  On December 7th, Venus moves into the constellation Ophiuchus (The Serpent Bearer) where it will remain until December 22 when it moves into the constellation Sagittarius (The Archer).

Mars

Mars can be observe from the late evening hours until morning all month in the constellation Leo (The Lion).  Mars rises around 10:40 pm (PST) at the beginning of December and by the end of the month Mars rises around 8:50 pm (PST).





On December 20th Mars starts retrograde motion. The above movie shows the path of Mars during the month of Decemeber. Each frame is one sideal day.

Jupiter

Located in the constellation Capricorn until January 2010, Jupiter is visible during the evening hours of December.  Jupiter sets around 11:00 pm (PST) at the start of December and by the end of the month Jupiter sets around 9:30 pm (PST).

Jupiter Neptune Moon On December 20th, Jupiter passes within 0°31’ from Neptune and sets less than 5°40’ from the Waxing, Crescent Moon.

Saturn

Saturn rises in the very early morning hours of December; rising around 2:25 am (PST) at the start of the month and by the end of the month rising around 12:35 am (PST).  Saturn is located in the constellation Virgo (The Maiden) until December 2012.

On December 10th the Waning, Crescent Moon sets less than 8° from Saturn. Saturn Moon

Uranus

Uranus is visible until the early morning hours of December.  It sets around 1:25 am (PST) at the beginning of December and at the end of December is sets around 11:35 pm (PST).  Uranus is located in the constellation Aquarius (The Water Bearer) until January 2010.

Uranus Moon The waxing, Crescent Moon passes with 5°15’ of Uranus on December 23rd.

Neptune

Neptune can be observe during the evening hours of December At the start of the month Neptune sets around 11:15 pm (PST) and by the end of the month Neptune sets around 9:20 pm (PST).  Neptune is found in the constellation Capricornus (The Sea Goat) until the year 2010

On December 20th, Jupiter passes within 0°31’ from Neptune and sets less than 5°40’ from the Waxing, Crescent Moon. Jupiter Neptune Moon

Pluto

Pluto Pluto may be observed around the first week of December and around December 9th Pluto disappears into the glare of the Sunset.

Pluto is located in the constellation Sagittarius (The Archer) until the year 2023.


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