What’s Up for December Skies?
Mark the date, December 21st at 12:11 PM, that’s the time to celebrate The Winter Solstice. The term solstice means ‘sun stands still’. This is the day that the sun rises at its southern most point along the horizon in the east and sets at its southern most point along the horizon in the southwest. Beginning Dec. 22nd, the sun starts moving northward along the horizon back toward the spring equinox when it rises due east and sets due west. Comet ISON is up in the east in the early morning sky just before dawn and is currently seen with just your eyes but binoculars and telescopes bring it into better view. The Geminid Meteor Shower will peak on the nights of December 13-14 but a bright waxing gibbous moon will interfere in the evening hours just after midnight so you’re best chance to see some of these meteors will be after moonset between the hours of 4:00 and 6:00 AM. Jupiter is visible in the east at dark, Venus is still blazing brilliantly in the southwest at dark, Mars is up in the east around 2:00 AM, and Saturn rises in the east around 5:30 AM.