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Sky Report - December 2013


Venus & Jupiter Conspicuous in Early Evening with Orion the best star group

Seen all through December – After hugging the northern evening horizon the last two months, the Big Dipper's scoop is again seen low in the North Northeast. The two top scoop stars point up and left to the North Star, a modest star about half way up in the North. Still high in the North is Cassiopeia, appearing as a flattened letter'M'. Low in the Northwest is the Northern Cross,(actually Cygnus, the Swan diving into the ground). The star group Orion with his three star belt is striking in the Southeast. Above Orion and to the right is the very bright planet Jupiter. Orion's three star belt points left and down to Sirius, the night's brightest star. Venus continues her reign in the western dusk.

Early December Sights – On December 1st, the moon appears below and to the right of the planet Saturn in the 6:15 a.m. sky. On December 3rd, the moon swings from the morning to the evening side of the sun. On December 5th, the crescent moon appears above and to right of the brilliant planet Venus. On this same date, start looking for Comet Ison in the eastern dawn around 6:45 a.m. sky. On December 9th, the moon appears half full in the southwestern evening sky. Along the left straight edge, the sun is rising, lighting up the crater rims and mountain ridges. In early December, the brilliant planet Venus is at its brightest in the western evening sky.

Mid December Sights – The Geminid meteor shower is interfered with by the gibbous moon on the night of December 12-13, shining though the a.m. hours. A meteor shower usually occurs when the Earth crosses the orbit of a comet. For the Geminids, the originating object is the asteroid Phaethon whose orbit crosses Earth. The meteors in this shower can be traced back to the star group Gemini, above and to the East of Orion. The evening moon grows to full on December 16th. On December 18th, the moon appears to the left of the bright planet Jupiter.

Late December Sights – On December 21st, the sun's direct rays reach farthest South and winter begins. On this day, the sun rises farthest south of East and sets farthest South of West. We have the year's shortest period of daylight, lasting 9 hours and 20 minutes locally. On December 25th, the moon appears half full in the southern dawn sky. On the morning of December 29th. the crescent moon appears near the planet Saturn in the southeastern sky.

Our Science Sunday presentation will be "Mammals of the Middle East", being shown in the Science Discovery Center at 4 p.m. These presentations will be shown on December 1st, December 8th and December 15th. The new Frostburg State Planetarium (called the MLC) will be opening early in the spring of 2014.

Frostburg State's new technology center called the CCIT has most of its outer walls in place. The building will likely be opening in the spring of 2014. It features an auditorium called the Multi-Media Center or MLC, which includes a digital planetarium projector. There will be resumption of our Sunday Public Planetarium programs, featuring a review of the past week's weather, the current night sky sights and a half hour feature. Sunday Tours of the Science Discovery Center will also be available to the interested public.

By Dr. Bob Doyle

To contact Dr. Doyle, his mailing address is Planetarium, Frostburg State University, Frostburg, MD 21532 or by email at rdoyle@frostburg.edu.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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