Astronomy Events – December 2015

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by Adam Welbourn

And in the blink of an eye December is once again upon us, and another year of Sky-Watching guides is all but complete. It’s been another good year for amateur stargazers and already some are looking to 2016.

But don’t miss what’s happening in front of you by looking only towards the future… or something.

To close out the year below we’ve listed some interesting astral events for December. Remember to wrap up warm if you do venture outside, but as always the rewards are there for those who seek them 🙂

All that remains is for us to wish happy holidays to all our visitors, enjoy the festive season!

Keep watching those skies…

Thursday 3rd December  – This morning our Moon will be seen at Last Quarter phase

Friday 4th December – If you happen to be up during the small hours this morning the Moon and Jupiter can be seen as close companions. A great opportunity for some astro snaps!

A good opportunity for some photos as the Moon and Jupiter cross the sky together, shown at 01:30 UTC (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium
A good opportunity for some photos as the Moon and Jupiter cross the sky together this morning, shown here at 01:30 UTC (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Saturday 5th December – The Moon is at Apogee today at a distance of 404,800 km (251,531 miles), the furthest point its orbit will take it away from the Earth this month

Friday 11th December – Today the New Moon rises and sets with the Sun, so now is a good time to observe deep sky objects like galaxies and nebulae, or get a clearer look at objects usually blurred and faint in light polluted skies

Winter favourite Orion is once again a fixture in our night sky, and a welcome sight it is too! (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn
Winter favourite Orion is once again a fixture in our night sky, and a welcome sight it is too! (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

Sunday 13th December – The next two evenings provide a great opportunity to observe the shooting stars of the fantastic Geminid meteor shower. With the Moon out of the way your chances of spotting some are all the greater!

Meteor showers are fascinating to watch! (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn
Meteor showers are fascinating to watch! We’re hoping for clear skies as you can’t have enough meteor photos in our opinion  (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

Couple this with the fact Geminids are known to be relatively slow moving and we could be on for a nice display! Wrap up warm, get comfy outside looking up and enjoy the show!

Wednesday 16th December – To help you identify the constellations you can see throughout the month, below we’ve provided guide images for both southern and northern skies in December

Shown at 00:00 UTC on 16th December, both these images are a handy guide for the whole month. This is the view you’ll get looking South (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium
Shown at 00:00 UTC on 16th December, both these images are a handy guide for the whole month. This is the view you’ll get looking South (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium
Displaying the night sky midway through the month, this image can help you identify the constellations you’ll see in the northern sky in December (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium
Displaying the night sky midway through the month, this image can help you identify the constellations you’ll see in the northern sky in December (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Friday 18th December – This afternoon the Moon will be seen at First Quarter phase

Monday 21st December – Today the Moon is at Perigee at a distance of 368,415 km (228,922 miles) from the Earth, the closest it will come on it’s current orbit

Tuesday 22nd December – Today is Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere (at 04:48 UTC)

Friday 25th December – Today’s Full Moon is sometimes known as the Christmas Moon, Bitter Moon or Cold Moon

A Full Moon shot with a Canon EOS 550D mounted on a Sky-Watcher Explorer 200P Newtonian Reflector Telescope (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn
A Full Moon shot with a Canon EOS 550D mounted on a Sky-Watcher Explorer 200P Newtonian Reflector Telescope (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

Tuesday 29th December – Inner planet Mercury is at Greatest Eastern Elongation and may be visible as a evening object for a short while after sunset (if your horizon is flat enough!). Look to the south west around 16:45 UTC

As usual, if you take any photos throughout December you’d like to show us, please tweet them to us using the link below! We’d love to see your efforts and we’ll re-tweet them to your fellow sky-watchers!

Planets visible this month:

Venus
Saturn
Neptune
Mars
Uranus
Jupiter
Mercury

Remember, it can take your eyes up to 20 minutes to become properly dark adapted, and anything up to an hour for a telescope to reach ambient temperature outside (to ensure the best image), so give yourself plenty of time to get set up!

To make it easier to find this list of astronomical happenings you can also locate it in the “Monthly Guide” section in the menu bar to the right. Handy! 🙂

Guide images created with Stellarium

Archive:
Astronomy Events – November 2015
Astronomy Events – October 2015
Astronomy Events – September 2015

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Billy Newman says:

    I will be keeping my eyes open for the meteor shower, I have been staying up late, making observations of mars and Jupiter. I’m building a calendar of skywatching observations to make through 2016

    Excited to observe Mars through the spring and summer.

    Like

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