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The sky is not a painting, it's a movie. Stars pulse, flare, some explode as supernova, asteroids whiz by the earth, new comets appear in the sky, Aurora sets the northern skies ablaze and meteors streak through Earth's atmosphere.
The Full Moon for December
The Full Cold Moon or the Full Long Nights Moon. During this month the winter cold fastens its grip, and nights are at their longest and darkest. It is also sometimes called the Moon before Yule. The term Long Night Moon is a doubly appropriate name because the midwinter night is indeed long, and because the Moon is above the horizon for a long time.
December Lunar Highlights
On the evening of December 5th, a waxing crescent passes 7° to the upper right of Venus. On the 18th the nearly-full Moon is 5° to the south of Jupiter. On the 29th, the waxing crescent once again lies below Saturn.
The Planets Visibility for December
Morning sky in the ESE
Mercury rises at 6:18 am on December 7th low in the east-southeast at -0.7 magnitude and a diameter of 0.5" located in the constellation Scorpius. Look east before sunrise around 6:30 just before sunrise and have a flat horizon to find Mercury. Mercury draws closer to the Sun and becomes more difficult to find lost in the glow of the Sun.
Evening sky SW after sunset
Venus shining is at its highest and brightest for the year. Venus at midmonth is -4.9 magnitude and a diameter of 0.47". Venus is located in the constellation Sagittarius and is the brightest object other than the Moon in the western evening sky setting midmonth at around 7:16 p.m. well after sunset. The disk of Venus appears through a telescope at a Phase of 17.91% on December 15th. See below phase of Venus as crescent.
Morning sky SE
Mars on December 15th rises around 12:43 a.m. at 1.1 magnitude and a diameter of 0.6" located in the constellation Virgo in the east. On December 25th the Moon and Mars are about 9 degrees apart. See Skymap below.
To see which part of the surface is visible at any time, check out the Mars Profiler at Sky & Telescope Magazine's web page.
Visible E Evening and W Morning sky
Jupiter at midmonth is at -2.7 magnitude and a diameter of 00'.47" located in the constellation Gemini the Twins. Jupiter rises midmonth around 6:22 p.m. but best viewed when it is higher in the sky. Jupiter will be up all night.
Morning SE sky
Saturn is at magnitude 0.6 and diameter 00'.16" rising 4:28 a.m. midmonth in Libra. Saturn slowly pulls away from the glare of the rising Sun now in the morning sky. A small telescope will reveal the famous rings of the planet. See: Saturn's moons locations
SE evening sky to SW morning sky
Uranus is in the eastern evening sky at 5.8 magnitude, diameter of 00°00'04". in the constellation Pisces. Uranus is highest in the sky around 7:00 p.m. in the southern sky after sunset and sets around 1:16 am. Uranus is fairly easy sight in binoculars if you have clear dark skies. A moderate-sized telescope will show it as a green-gray disk. See finder charts: Sky & Telescope
S evening sky
Neptune midmonth is at 7.9 magnitude, diameter of 00°00'02" located in the constellation Aquarius and sets midmonth at 10:13 p.m. It is best observed around 5-6 p.m. when it is highest in the southern sky. See finder charts: Sky & Telescope
Asteroid 4 Vesta is at magnitude 7.9 in Virgo and Asteroid 1 Ceres at magnitude 8.7 also located in Virgo in the morning sky at midmonth. 4 Vesta and Ceres are 05°34'44" apart. Mars is 09°20'10" from asteroid 4 Vesta and 14°48'08" from 1 Ceres. See photo of asteroids and Mars below.
Pluto at magnitude +14.1, amid the stars of the Milky Way of the constellation Sagittarius. Pluto is 01°51'32" from open cluster star M-25 this month. A large telescope is needed to see this distant object.
C/2013 R1 (Comet Lovejoy)
Comet Lovejoy is bright and just barely visible with unaided eye from a dark site. Estimated at 4.6 magnitude located in the constellation Hercules.
C/2012 S1 (ISON)
The Sun grazing comet ISON broke apart from its encounter with the Sun and will not be visible as hoped by astronomer in sky map below. Comets are unpredictable as to their brightness and size.
For more on current Comets and locations see: Seiichi Yoshida web site here.
The Geminids meteor shower peaks at around 50-80 meteors per hour on the night of December 13/14. But you can expect to see early Geminids as early as December 6th. The shower ends around December 18th. The meteors appear to radiate from the constellation Gemini the Twins. The constellation is rising in the east early December. Look to the east for meteors. The meteors originate from the debris trail of asteroid 3200 Phaethon.
Some local links below to Heavens Above satellite information website.
Also see: Spaceflight NASA
Real time solar wind dials are linked live to the ACE Spacecraft.
If the dial on the left (Magnetic Field) has dipped below zero, the speed is high and the dial dynamic pressure is in the yellow/red, be alert for Aurora. Anytime the gauges are in the Red and the dial on the left, the Magnetic Field BZ has dipped to the yellow-red... Aurora will be occurring in our area. See link to solar wind gauge here: REAL TIME SOLAR WIND
See explanation of solar wind dials below by clicking on photo of dials
Solar Wind Dials