Tracking December Skies

Here is a look at some of the sights you can see in the night sky this month. This information is provided by Indiana University.

PLANETS: As has been the case for the past few months, Jupiter is the big show this month. It is visible in the eastern sky at sunset, the southern sky at Midnight, and the northwest as the sun rises. You can’t miss the largest planet. It is the brightest object in the evening sky other than the moon.  Meanwhile, Mars is visible low in the southwest sky for about two hours after sunset. It is easily recognized by its red tint. This month’s “morning star” is Venus, which will be visible for a couple of hours before sunrise. It is easy to spot in the eastern sky. At the same time, the planet Mercury will be just to the right of Venus. Mercury and Venus will be the closest on December 9.

METEOR SHOWER: The annual Geminid meteor shower peaks this year on the night of December 13 – 14. Because this is when the moon is new (not visible), it could be a great show. Astronomers are estimating up to 100 shooting stars per hour away from city lights. There should be some shooting stars visible a few days on either side of the peak as well.

MOON PHASES: This month’s last quarter is on December 6, followed by the New Moon on December 13. The first quarter occurs on the 20th, with the full moon on the 28th.

WINTER SOLSTICE: Winter begins on December 21 at 6:12AM EST. From this point until the first day of summer in June, the length of daylight will increase (though slowly at first).

FORECAST: To see if the weather will be clear to view these great sights, you can always visit us at http://www.fox17online.com/weather.

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