December 2008

Winter Solstice

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.

Lunar Events

The Full Moon for December occurs on December 12th and is known as the Full Cold Moon, also Long Night Moon or Moon Before Yule.

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

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 - Mercury, MJupiter and Moon
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.

Venus

Venus is the Evening Star for the entire month of December. 

December 1, 2008, Sunset - Venus begins the month a mere 2°30’ from the planet Jupiter and a 4-day old waxing, crescent moon. December 1, 2008 - Venus and Jupiter

On December 26 and 27 Venus will pass 1°30’ from the planet Neptune.

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

Mars is not observable this month due to it proximity to the glare of the Sun.

Mars begins this month in the constellation Ophiuchus, the Serpent Bearer until December 22nd when is crosses into the constellation Sagittarius, the Archer.

Jupiter

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.

On December 1st, Jupiter rises with 2°30’ of Venus and the 4-day-old, waxing, crescent moon.

December 30, 2008 - Jupiter and Venus

On December 30th, Sunset - Mercury will pass less than 1°20’ of Jupiter.

Saturn

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 - Saturn and Moon
December 15, 2008, Sunrise- At mid-month, Saturn is high in the sky
by sunrise.

Uranus

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.

December 5, 2008 - Uranus and Moon
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

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 3, 2008 - Neptune and Moon
Decemebr 3, 2008, Sunset -
On December 3rd, Neptune rises within

1°30’ of the Waxing, Crescent Moon. Shown here relative to Uranus,
Venus and Jupiter.

December 26, 2008 - Neptune and Vnus
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

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 - Pluto
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
be unobservable.

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