The small planet Mercury is hard to see and to find. If you want to try, use a binocular and look after Sun set in the West between 4.20 pm and 5.10 pm. The bright planet Venus is still in the mornings and visible from 5 am onwards. The planet is in the constellation Libra. The red planet Mars is in between the bright Venus and Jupiter. Mars is best seen from 2.20 am onwards and is in the constellation Virgo. The giant planet Jupiter is moving further away from the morning planets Mars and Venus. Jupiter is already visible from just before midnight onwards and is in the constellation Leo. The ring with the planets Saturn is now getting further from the Sun. Saturn is best seen from 6.30 am onwards and is in the constellation Ophiuchus and getting closer to Venus.
It is Full Moon on Christmas day the 25th, so it will be hard to see dim and faint objects in the night sky. But the constellations Pegasus, Orion, Taurus, Gemini and Leo are quite obvious and easy to recognise.
Wednesday 23 December
Today in 1970 the construction of the World Trade Center in New York City reached 1353 feet high or 411 meters, its highest point. Once the highest skyscrapers in the world. The twin towers were totally destroyed on 11 September 2001 by terrorists.
The meteor shower Ursae Minorids is at maximum at 9 am. Look in the early mornings. The stream is active from 17 to 26 December.
The International Space Station, called ISS, appears at 4.33 pm in the West. Culmination or highest point is at 4.38 pm in the South South West at an altitude of 12°. ISS disappears at 4.43 pm in the South East.
The Moon is passing the Hyades in the constellation Taurus. The Hyades has several brighter stars. It will pass a few quite close. At 5 pm the Moon is close to the star called Hyadum I. The separation is 5 lunar diameters. The Moon is that time as well close to the star Hyadum II with a separation of 4 lunar diameters. And the Moon is close to the star called The1 Tau with a separation of only 1 lunar diameter. The Moon is also close to the star The2 Tau with a separation of 1 lunar diameter. The Moon phase is 96% so be careful with the bright light of the nearly Full Moon.
At 5.04 pm an Iridium flare appears in the South West at an altitude of 10° and in constellation of Capricornus. Another Iridium flare, this time brighter, appears 5.26 pm in the West North West at an altitude of 18° in the constellation of Hercules. An Iridium flare appears as a bright dot, a satellite moving in the sky and sudden lighting up at the position as described.
At 6.12 pm the Moon occults the brighter star Aldebaran in the constellation Taurus. The star disappears at the dark limb of the Moon.
After one orbit, which is about 90 minutes, the ISS appears again at 6.10 pm in the West. Culmination is at 6.14 pm in the South West at an altitude of only 9°. ISS disappears at 6.18 pm in the South.
At 7.12 pm the bright star Aldebaran reappears from behind the Moon. This will be at the bright side of the Moon.
At 11.29 pm the red planet Mars is close to the bright star Spica of the constellation Virgo. Not visible at this time. Look in the early mornings for Mars and you still will see the bright star nearby.
At 6.46 am an Iridium flare appears in the North North West at an altitude of 55° and in the constellation of Camelopardalis.
Time to close the night (or morning), at 7.33 am the Great Red Spot is transiting the giant planet Jupiter. You will need a smaller telescope or binocular to see the details on Jupiter or the 4 brighter Moons around the giant planet.
Thursday 24 December
Santa’s s;eigh is appearing in various timings in the evening sky, per flare, per ISS?
At 5.11 pm a very bright Iridium flare is visible in the West North West at an altitude of 22° in the constellation of Hercules. A few minutes after, at 5.16 pm, another bright Iridium flare appears in the South West at only an altitude of 5° in the constellation Sagittarius.
SANTA in the ISS? Rather low on the horizon and not as bright. ISS is visible in the West at 5.16 pm. Culmination is at 5.20 pm at an altitude of 14°. If you want to point out to the children, make sure you have a clear view on the horizon.
ISS disappears at 5.25 pm in the South South East.
Another very bright Iridium flare appears at 5.55 pm in the South at an altitude of 31° in the constellation Pisces.
At 10.07 pm the Moon is in maximum libration. The Moon’s North Pole and Mare Frigoris are tipped into the Earth’s view.
Get out for some Jupiter observations. At 3.13 am the Jupiter Moon Callisto begins its shadow crossing over the planet. At 3.25 am the Great Red Spot transits the disc of the giant planet. At 5.31 am the Jupiter Moon Io is in Western elongation and at 6.52 am the Jupiter Moon Callisto ends it shadow over the planet.
Friday 25 December
Today in 1642 Sir Isaac Newton was born. Newton died on 20 March 1727 at age of 84. Newton was an English physicist and mathematician who made many discoveries in several areas of science. He was the leading scientist of his era.
At 11.11 am it is Full Moon. This is the Northernmost Full Moon of the year. The former more Northern Full Moon was on 17 December 2013. The next more Northern Full Moon is on 2 January 2018. Full Moon on Christmas! It is the first time since 1977 that Full Moon is on Christmas day. The next Full Moon on Christmas day will be in 2034. The last Full Moon on Christmas Eve was in 2007 while the next Full Moon on Christmas Eve will be 2026. Full Moon on Boxing Day was in 2004 and will be next in 2042. Write that in your Christmas calendar! This year the Yuletide Full Moon falls 3 days after the winter solstice, which was on 22 December. Each year December's Full Moon (the last of the year) gets its name the Full Long Night's Moon or the Full Cold Moon, in honour of the month's dark, cold nights, according to the Farmer's Almanac. It can also be called the Moon before Yule.
Not that you will notice, but for the Solar observers, at 11.48 am the Solar Rotation begins its Carrington rotation number 2172. At 4.16 pm the equation of time is zero. The apparent solar time is now equal to the mean solar time. The time on the sun dial will be the same as the time on your clock!
ISS appears at 4.23 pm in the West. Culmination is at 4.28 pm in the South South West at 21° altitude. ISS disappears at 4.32 pm in the South East.
After midnight, at 2.49 am the Jupiter Moon Io is in Eastern elongation. And at 3.01 am the Jupiter Moon Europa begins its eclipse.
Uranus, still visible in the evening skies, is stationary and is getting prograde. Watch the small planet with a binocular a few days before and a few days after and you will see its movement between the stars.
Saturday 26 December
At 4.50 pm a rather bright Iridium flare appears in the West North West at an altitude of 26° in the constellation Hercules.
At 6.20 pm the Moon is close to the star called Lam Gem. The limb separation is about 2° which is under 5 lunar diameters.
At 5.03 am in the morning the Great Red Spot transits the giant planet Jupiter.
Sunday 27 December
The Moon is in maximum libration at 11.23 am daytime. Mare Crisium limb is tipped into the Earth’s view. If clear, why not look at the Moon in day time and with a binocular?
At 4.44 pm an Iridium flare appears in the West North West at an altitude of 26° in the constellation Hercules.
After midnight, when clear, watch the events at Jupiter. At 0.55 am the Great Red Spot transits the planet. At 2.24 am the Jupiter Moon Europa ends its transit. At 5.34 am the Jupiter Moon Io begins it shadow over the disc. And at 6.47 am the Jupiter Moon Io begins its actual transit over the giant planet.
Monday 28 December
Look out for some Iridium flares in the early evening. At 4.29 pm a very bright flare in the West North West at an
altitude of 30° in the constellation of Hercules. It is a double flare which appears, both as bright, both in the same spot and at the same time. Worth a look! At 5.40 pm another flare, less bright, in the South at an altitude of 29° in the constellation Aquarius.
After midnight at 0.12 am the Jupiter Moon Ganymede begins its shadow crossing over the planet. At 2.42 am the Jupiter Moon Io begins its eclipse. At 3.37 am the Jupiter Moon Ganymede ends its shadow. At 5.09 am the Jupiter Moon Ganymede begins its actual transit. At 6.10 am the Jupiter Moon Io reappears from its occultation. At 6.42 am the Great Red Spot transits the planet.
The small planet Mercury is at its greatest elongation at 3.15 am. The planet is about 20° East of the Sun and is visible in the evenings.
At 7.20 am the Moon is close to the star called Subra in the constellation Leo. The limb separation is less than 1° or about 2 lunar diameters.
Tuesday 29 December
At 4.23 pm an Iridium flare appears in the West North West at an altitude of 31° in the constellation of Hercules.
The Jupiter Moon Io begins its shadow at 0.02 am. At 1.14 am the Jupiter Moon Io begins its transit. At 2.19 am the Jupiter Moon Io ends its shadow. Watch in between the Great Red Spot transiting the giant planet at 2.33 am. And at 3.29 am the Jupiter Moon Io ends its transit. Worth a watch the inner Moon of Jupiter.
The about 3 quarter Moon is getting closer to Jupiter in the mornings.
Wednesday 30 December
This morning at 8.20 am we have the latest Sunrise of the year for this Ashbourne area.
After midnight, you will need your telescope or binocular and watch Jupiter. At 0.38 am the Jupiter Moon Io reappears from its occultation.
At 6.08 am in the morning a rather bright Iridium flare appears in the North at an altitude of 43° in the constellation Cepheus. Iridium flares are bright flashes of a passing satellite. Worth a watch and can be seen with the naked eye.
Watch the Moon very close to Jupiter before Sunset.
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