Hampshire Skies

SUN – At the start of December, Romney sunrises are about 7:18 a.m. with sunsets about 4:57 p.m.

The sun is in Ophiuchus through Dec. 17, then moving into Sagittarius for the rest of the year.  

The winter solstice when the sun appears farthest south is Dec. 21. On this day, the sun has its lowest track across the sky.  At the end of December, sunrises are at 7:35 a.m. with sunsets about 5:01 p.m.

MOON –The moon nearly lines up with the sun on Dec. 4 (new moon), the start of a new lunar phase cycle. There follows 2 weeks in which the moon’s lighted width grows (waxes) from a crescent to nearly full.

On Dec. 6, the crescent moon appears near the brilliant planet Venus in the western dusk. On the evening of Dec. 7, the moon is below the dull planet Saturn. On the following evening, the moon is near the bright planet Jupiter.

On the evening of Dec. 10, the evening moon appears half full (like a “D”) in the southwestern sky. Along the moon’s left (straight) edge, the sun is rising, lighting the crater rims and mountains. So the evenings of Dec. 8-12 are best for observing the moon’s rugged surface with a telescope.

The moon is full on Dec. 19, rising about sunset and staying visible all through the night. The moon continues its eastward motion, rising about 50 minutes later each night. On Dec. 26, the morning moon appears half full (like a reversed “D”) in the southern dawn.

PLANETS – The spectacular alignment of Jupiter, Saturn and Venus will come to an end in January. So take advantage of this line up in December. Through the end of the year the planets will be Jupiter on top, Saturn in the middle and Venus lowest.

Of course, these planets are not really close but merely in the same direction as seen from the Earth. The innermost planet Mercury will pass by Venus in late December.

STARS – December is Orion’s month with his belt of 3 stars in a row and bright Betelgeuse (pink) in his shoulder and white-blue Rigel in his foot. Look in the eastern sky in mid-evening. A line from Rigel to Betelgeuse and extended an equal distance will take you into Gemini.

In December, the 2 brothers are lying side by side in the eastern sky. On Dec. 13-14, there will be a  meteor shower where the meteors can be traced back to Gemini.

Readers can request a free email copy of my 2022 Sky Almanac (2 pages) from rdoyle@frostburg.edu.

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