Astronomy

Evening Planets:
Saturn is very low in the SW in the evening twilight. Each evening, Saturn is getting lower and harder to see. By 10 December, Saturn has moved into the bright glow of Sunset and is lost from view.
Mars is up in the South as evening darkness falls. Mars eastward movement each night means that the planet sets about the same time each night which is just before Midnight. The planet dims down a bit more as the month progresses. By mid-month, Mars is the sole bright evening planet.

Morning Planets:
Venus is up in the SE before Dawn breaks. The planet is at her brightest for this year’s morning showing on 1 December. On 13 December, Venus will reach her highest position for this morning showing. At the end of this month, Venus will start to dim down a bit and start to loose altitude.
Mercury makes a rapid appearance in the SE at Dawn. By 8 December, the planet should be visible way down to the lower left of Venus. On 15 December, the planet is at its highest position for this morning showing. After that date, Mercury will be lower in the sky but visible low in the SE for the rest of the month. The planet will have a close approach with Jupiter.
Jupiter should be visible around the 12 December and to the lower left of Mercury. Each morning, Jupiter is slowly moving towards Mercury. At Dawn on the morning of the 21 December, Jupiter will be near Mercury. After that date, Jupiter will move upward and away from Mercury.

3 Dec Crescent Moon, Venus and bright star Spica form a triangle, Dawn
8 Dec Very thin Crescent Moon lower right of Saturn, Dusk (this will be hard to see)
13-14 Dec Geminid Meteor Shower
14 Dec 1st Quarter Moon below Mars, Dusk
21 Dec Winter Solstice; Jupiter Mercury Conjunction, Dawn
30 Dec Last Quarter Moon above bright star Spica, Dawn

Venus:
The planet has a favorable showing in the Dawn sky. During the 1st two weeks of December, the planet is bright enough to cast faint wispy shadows. If atmospheric conditions (ice crystals) are right, Venus may have a faint halo around her.

Geminid Meteor Shower:
The Geminid Meteor Shower will happen on the night of 13 -14 December. The meteor shower evening display is hindered by a thick Crescent Moon. After Midnight, the sky will be Moon free. The Pre –Dawn hours of 14 December is predicted to have about 50 meteors per hour. Occasionally a Geminid Meteor will leave a trail behind. This meteor shower display is fairly favorable for our viewing area.

Ursid Minor Meteor Shower:
This weak meteor shower will happen on the night of 21- 22 December. Unfortunately this weak meteor shower will be ruined by the Full Moon.

Written by
Gary T. Nowak
Vermont Astronomical Society