November 22-24, 2021: Before sunrise, the moon appears in front of Gemini’s stars. On November 22, the Twins seem to be kicking the moon as if it were a soccer ball. In the evening sky, brilliant Evening Star Venus, bright Jupiter, and Saturn are in the southern sky after sunset.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
The bright morning gibbous moon is high in the western sky in front of the stars of Gemini during the hours before sunup.
The moon is a few days past its nearly-total eclipse. It is waning and rising after midnight.
Before sunup on November 22, the lunar orb is over 90% illuminated and near the feet of Castor, one of the Gemini Twins. The constellation resembles two stick figure humans with one arm around the other’s shoulders.
At about 90 minutes before sunrise, use a binocular or shield your view from the moon’s glare with your hand as you would to block the sun. The moon is 3.3° to the upper right of Propus, “the projecting foot,” and 3.9° to the right of Tejat Posterior, “the back foot.” These two stars could be visualized as the toe (Propus) and heel (Tejat Posterior). This morning, the moon could be a soccer ball, kicked by Castor.
On November 23, the moon is higher in the sky this morning, about 85% illuminated. It is in the middle of the constellation, 8.5° to the lower left of Castor and 8.8° to the lower right of Pollux.
November 24, the moon, 79% illuminated, is higher than yesterday and 4.6° to the upper left of Castor, above a line the begins at Castor and extends through Pollux.
In the evening sky, the three bright planets, Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn, are visible in the southern sky. Step outside about an hour after sunset, Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter are lined up from the south to the southwest.
Brilliant Venus is nearly 14° up in the south-southwest. Saturn is over 20° to the upper left of Venus. Bright Jupiter, over one-third of the way up in the south, is over 16° to the upper left of Saturn.
Either morning or evening, the late November sky provides opportunity to see the bright moon and three planets.
January 5, 2022: Jupiter and the crescent are 5.5° in the evening sky. Look for Mercury and Saturn with the planet-moon duo. Earlier, Venus is low in the west-southwest. Before sunrise, Mars is near Antares.
January 4, 2022: Earth is at perihelion today – it’s closest point to the sun. Mars is a morning planet, while the evening planet pack – Venus, Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter – and the crescent moon are in the southwest after sundown.
January 3, 2022: The moon passes Venus for the final time of this evening appearance of Venus. As night falls, Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter are visible in the southwest. Mars is in the southeast before sunrise.
December 30, 2021: As the year ends and the new one opens, the night sky’s brightest star – Sirius – is in the southern sky at the midnight hour.
December 31, 2021: This morning before sunup, the thin waning crescent moon appears near Mars and the star Antares. Four planets – Venus, Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter – are on parade in the southwest after sundown.