The Visible Planets
Mercury is not visible this month as it is too close to the Sun to be seen.
Venus continues to shine brightly low in the southeastern sky for most of the month, slowly sinking lower and finally disappearing into the glare of the rising Sun by the end of the month. In the afternoon of December 12, you can watch an occultation of Venus by the waning crescent Moon in the afternoon as seen from western Canada (in Alberta at about 2:09 pm). A telescope or binoculars will be needed to view the occultation.
Mars continues to dim in our evening sky as the distance between Mars and the Earth increases from Mars’ October opposition. After sunset Mars is found in the southeastern sky but then progresses westward through the night only to set in the west at around 3:00 am local time. On the evening of December 23 Mars can been seen just above the waxing gibbous Moon. Mars continues to be found amongst the stars of the constellation of Pisces, fish.
Jupiter can be seen sinking lower and lower toward the southwestern horizon after sunset, day to day, during the month until it finally gets lost in the glare of the setting Sun around the end of the month. Jupiter and the fainter planet Saturn, both within the constellation of Sagittarius, the archer, will have very close conjunction on December 20/21.
Saturn is sinking lower and lower toward the southwestern horizon after sunset, day by day, during the month until it finally gets lost in the glare of the setting Sun around the end of the month. Look for Saturn very near Jupiter on December 20/21 for nice close conjunction of these two large gas worlds.
December 7 Last Quarter Moon
December 14 New Moon
December 21 First Quarter Moon
December 29 Full Moon (The Cold Moon)
International Space Station (ISS) Observable Passes
During the month of December there will be some favourable passes of the ISS as seen from Edmonton. From December 1 to December 9, the ISS will be visible in our early evening period. From December 19 onwards, visible ISS passes switch into our early morning sky before sunrise. Check the website http://www.heavens-above.com for exact viewing times for your location.
December 12 Venus found just south of the waning crescent Moon in the predawn sky. Occultation of Venus seen from North America!
December 14 Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (Edmonton Centre) Meeting Tonight.
7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Virtual meeting on Zoom. See website http://www.edmontonrasc.com for details.
Total solar eclipse visible from South Pacific, South Atlantic, South America (Chili and Argentina). No part of eclipse visible from North America.
December 13/14 Geminid meteor shower peaks (Zenith hourly rate of 150)
December 17 Close conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the western sky after sunset.
December 19 – January 3 School Christmas/Winter break
December 21 Winter solstice occurs at precisely 3:02 am MST
Very close conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the evening sky
December 21-22 Ursid meteor shower peaks
December 23 Lunar straight wall visible this evening
December 25 Merry Christmas!
December 31 New Year’s Eve
Exact date TBD, but sometime in December JAXA’s Hayabusa2 will drop off asteroid samples in the Australian desert.