December 7-9, 2021: The crescent appears with Jupiter and Saturn in the southern sky after sundown. Meanwhile, Mars continues its slow climb into the morning sky.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Mars continues its slow climb into the morning sky. It is low in the southeast at about 45 minutes before sunrise. Find it nearly 8° above the horizon. It is not very bright at this time. The Scorpion’s claws, Zubenelgenubi and Zubeneschamali, are over 10° above the Red Planet. Mars is brighter than the claws, but at its low altitude it may seem to be about the same brightness as them.
Spica, the brightest star in Virgo, is over 30° to the upper right of Mars.
After sunset, the crescent moon is near the planet pack – Venus, Saturn and Jupiter. Step outside about an hour after sunset during the next few evenings. The moon is near one of the planets.
Brilliant Venus is in the south-southwest. Dimmer Saturn is about 15° to the upper left of Venus. Bright Jupiter, over one-third of the way up in the south, is nearly 17° to the upper left of the Ringed Wonder.
Here’s what to look for on these evenings:
December 7: The crescent moon – 18% illuminated – is 12.8° to the upper left of brilliant Venus, while Saturn is 5.6° above the lunar slice.
December 8: The moon – 28% illuminated – is 12.1° to the upper left of Saturn and 7.6° to the lower right of bright Jupiter.
December 9: The waxing lunar crescent – 38% illuminated – is 9.2° to the left of Jupiter.
Look for earthshine, reflected light from Earth’s oceans, clouds, and land, on the night portion of the moon.
- 2023, December 28: Gemini Moon, Morning Star, Jupiter, SaturnDecember 28, 2023: The bright moon is near Pollux, one of the Gemini Twins. Venus is in the southeast before sunrise. Jupiter and Saturn shine during the evening hours.
- 2023, December 27: Morning Cold Moon, Morning Star, Jupiter, SaturnDecember 27, 2023: The Cold Moon is in the western sky before sunrise. Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn are visible during nighttime hours.
- 2023, December 26: Cold Moon, Venus, Jupiter, SaturnDecember 26, 2023: The Cold Moon is visible during the nighttime hours. Venus shines before sunrise while Jupiter and Saturn are visible after sundown.
- 2023, December 25: Telescope First Light, Bright PlanetsDecember 25, 2023: For sky watchers with new telescopes, here’s what to look at before dawn or after sunset.
- 2023, December 24: Morning Moon, Pleiades, Antares Heliacal RisingDecember 24, 2023: The moon appears near the Pleiades star cluster during the earlier morning hours. Antares is at its first morning appearance, known as the heliacal rising.