Monthly Sky Guide

December's Guide To The Sky

Planets this month

Mars is the one to view month as we are now closest to it in its orbit and it will look high and bright over December. Jupiter is still the brightest in the sky and can be seen easily as the sun sets as a bright whitish blob in the sky. Saturn is just off to its lower right being dimmer and with a hint of yellow but is setting early.

Mercury is slowly rising in the evening sky with Venus very close to it, but sadly to close to the Sun to really be viewed. Uranus is up most of the night and you should still be able to spot it - although it's still sitting in a hard to find place between the constellations Cetus and Taurus, where there are not many bright stars to aid in your star hopping.

Neptune is just to the right, not far from Jupiter, but again is in an area that's full of dimmer stars. The gas giant should help you find an area close to it, so you can hop from star to star to the planet.

December 2022

The Moon occults Uranus, no chuckling. This may be a tougher spot than the occulting of Mars later around 4:50pm. Depending on your location in the UK you may spot the dim planet slip behind the Moon and reappearing from its other side at around 5:21pm.

December 2022

Mars is occulted by the Moon. This afternoon's full moon will slip back in the sky and slowly cover the red planet. At around 4:57am, the planet will slip behind our Moon with it popping out the other side around 5:57am - well worth an early wake up.

Mars also reaches opposition this morning, so it will be at its brightest. Great timing to see this awesome event.

December 2022

The awesome Geminid meteor shower peaks starting at around 1:00pm - which is daytime. The best time to see them is the night before the 13th, or the night after the 14th. This gives you two nights to hopefully get out and see them shooting across the sky from the constellation Gemini. Although there is a waning gibbous Moon in the way washing some out, it's definitely well worth sitting out in your gardens or a dark field with warm clothes and a blanket, maybe reclining chairs, and looking up for a couple hours of burning meteors in our skies.

December 2022

Jupiter's moon, Ganymede, transits the planet tonight between 7:00pm and 10:00pm. Pop your scopes on the planet to see if you can spot the moon crossing its surface. In fact it moves pretty much along with its red spot, just below the huge storm.

December 2022

The Moon begins to slips out of the way making it a great time to start your search for those dimmer deep space objects, like the Orion Nebula, Globular clusters or galaxies.

December 2022

The elusive Mercury, messenger of the gods, reaches its greatest elongation today. This means it will be at its highest point in the afternoon Sun. Have a look out just as the Sun sets for a white dot near the horizon.

December 2022

With the Moon out of the way, it's a good time to see if you can spot the peak of the Ursid meteor shower. Although not as good as the Geminids, it's still worth looking up around 10:00pm at Ursa Minor. The best way to find the area is to pick out the Plough asterism in the sky, draw a line straight up from the last two stars, and that will point you to Polaris the North Star. This area is where they will radiate from. So happy spotting.

While out looking for meteors, if you have a scope, pop it on Jupiter at around 11:00pm and watch the moon Ganymede transit across the planet's surface. Although, just as it gets going, the planet sets. So have a quick look for a double bubble of sights tonight.

Fancy a Christmas comet hunt?

December 2022

Comet C/2020 V2 ZTF (a catchy named comet) is not far from the North Star Polaris this evening. A little star hop from Polaris should lead you to it. Although slightly dimmer than our next comet at a magnitude of +9, it is at a much better height to see and is up all night.

December 2022

As the Sunsets on Christmas Eve there will be a celestial triangle low on the horizon. As a slender Moon, Venus and Mercury peak up from the horizon, this may be a tougher spot as they are low and the Sun is just setting. But get a high vantage point with a clear S/W horizon and you should spot them before they set.

December 2022

C/2022 E3 ZTF, another catchy comet, in the constellation Corona Borealis. The crown constellation is brightening to a magnitude of +8, meaning it is within binocular viewing. The constellation sets quite early, so you will only maybe get an hour or two of good hunting before it sets around 7:00pm.

December 2022

Saturn sits nearly atop the Moon this evening, so you will see a nice thin crescent Moon with a pale yellow dot above it - which is the ringed planet Saturn.

December 2022

The Moon has now slipped back towards Jupiter. The planet will be above right of the nearly half phased Moon. Jump to the gas giant just as the sunsets to see the moon Europa transiting - followed later by the moon's shadow across Jupiter.

December 2022

Tonight is a great time to peek at the quarter Moon. Along the shadow. you may spot the letters 'V' and 'X' as the sunlight glints off several craters creating the illusion of letters on the Moon.

December 2022

Happy New Year! If you're like me and have a tradition of popping out to see the new year in, why not peak up at Mars - which will be north of the bright constellation cluster, Hyades amd Taurus the bull. These red stars will complement the red planet, with the brighter blue Pleiades sitting close by a great way to see in a Happy New Year 2023.

Clear skies guys, and remember... there's a billion worlds in your back garden!

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