SKY WATCH DECEMBER 2018
by Bob Berman, as featured in The Old Farmer’s Almanac
Our astronomy editor, Bob Berman, sets you up for the best in night sky sightseeing each month, with special tips for finding bright planets and stars, eclipses, meteor showers, and other celestial objects and events.
- Venus excels as a dazzling morning star, now at greatest brilliancy at a gorgeous shadow-casting magnitude –4.9. Nicely high at predawn twilight, it’s below the Moon on the 3rd. Learn more about Venus at its Brightest!
- Mercury also begins a good morning apparition, below the Moon on the 5th.
- On the 6th, returning Jupiter takes its turn dangling below the crescent Moon.
- This month, there are four great nights to follow the Moon, starting December 8!
- The Geminid meteors should be excellent on the 13th, after the Moon sets at around 10:30 P.M.
- Zero-magnitude Mars stands above the Moon on the 14th, with both about halfway up the southern sky at nightfall.
- Jupiter and Mercury hang out together most of the month and are quite close on the 21st, some 10 degrees high, 40 minutes before sunrise.
- Winter begins with the solstice, on the 21st at 5:23 P.M. ET. This year, it’s almost a full Moon on the winter solstice!