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  • Chris Baker

What's Up? - DECEMBER 2023

Each month I highlight a few objects you can spot in the night sky without the need for optical equipment.


For December- Venus and Jupiter put on amazing displays and there is a super meteor shower.

PLANETS


Mercury

Too difficult to spot this month


Venus

Venus is a bright pre-dawn object - viewable all month long -although the earlier in the month the better as it begins to slip lower toward to the end of the month.


Venus mid month 06:30am in the south east

Courtesy of Stellarium


Note the bright orange star Arcturus and the bright star Spica.


Jupiter

Jupiter puts on a dazzling display all month! Simply look south east early evening onwards and the bright object is Jupiter. It also appears near the star cluster The Seven Sisters, also known as Pleiades.

If you do have binoculars try holding them steady against a wall and seeing if you can spot a number of Jupiter's moons. You may be lucky enough to spot up to four. Let me know if you manage this for the first time.

Jupiter mid evening looking east early in the month

Courtesy of Stellarium




Saturn

Beautiful Saturn is visible during the first half of the month at reasonable altitudes for observing.


Saturn early evening on the 5th December in the south

Courtesy of Stellarium



Mars

Mars won't be visible until next spring.



Geminids meteor shower

This annual meteor shower is one of the best we have in the northern hemisphere. It will be enhanced this year with the new Moon on the 12th - being just two days prior to the Geminids peaking.

It rises to 60-70 meteors per hour


When to look

The Geminids will be visible between the 4th and 17th of December and will peak on the evening of the 14th.


Where to Look

They appear to radiate from the star Castor, one of the two main stars of Gemini. The radiant lies quite low in the sky early evening looking north east.



Centre of radiance early evening on the 14th - (but applicable for most evenings between the 4th and 17th December)

Courtesy of Stellarium


Look east between the 4th and 17th and especially on or around the 14th early evening



Enjoy the night sky this month and let me know about your observations


Thank you for reading this blog and do let me know if there is anything you would like me to add to my Newsletter each month.

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