Here is a quick look at what’s happening astronomically in December 2012. Mark your calendars.
Last Quarter Moon: December 6 (morning sky)
New Moon: December 13
First Quarter Moon: December 19
Full Moon: December 28
At sunset: Mars (look west) (low on the horizon).
Early Evening: Jupiter (look east after sunset)
Morning before sunrise: Venus, Saturn, and Mercury will be visible at the beginning of the month in the east just before the rising sun.
December18: The Sun enters the astronomical constellation Sagittarius
December 21: The Sun enters the astrological sign Capricorn (Capricornus).
December 7: Earliest sunset by a few seconds for the metro Denver (40 degrees north latitude). The sun sets within the same minute from December 5 to December 10. The latest sunrise occurs on January 5.
December 21: The winter solstice or the beginning of winter occurs at 4:12am MST. The sun is at its lowest point above the horizon in the northern hemisphere for the year. In Australia and countries below the equator it’s the beginning of summer where the sun will be at its highest. Christmas in Australia is typically celebrated with an outdoor barbeque. Contrary to many reports the world will not end on this day.
December 13-14: The Geminids peak. Shower is favorable this year. Go here for tips on observing.
December 9: A crescent moon can be seen below the star Spica in the constellation Virgo the virgin in the pre-dawn eastern sky
December 10: A thin crescent moon can be seen below Saturn in the pre-dawn eastern sky
December 11: A very thin crescent moon can be seen below Venus in the pre-dawn eastern sky
December 22: Chamberlin Observatory open house
December 25: The Moon and Jupiter rise next to just after sunset, a perfect time to use that new Christmas telescope
December 25, 1642 Isaac Newton is born. He is considered by many to be the greatest scientist who ever lived. He is credited with many of the crowning intellectual achievements of western civilization.
December 21, 1968 the Apollo 8 moon mission is launched with Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot James Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders on board. They were the first humans to leave Earth orbit on their trip to orbit the Moon. It was also the first time human kind viewed the whole Earth from space. Terms such as LOI (Lunar Orbital Insertion) were soon to become part of the American lexicon.
Wishing you clear skies