What's to see in the night sky in December?

December, 2001

This chart represents the sky as it looks at around 10 PM local time. Some adjustment should be made for longitude, but it shouldn't be much. Right click on the chart, select "Save As" and save the image. You can then print this chart from a photo application, like Print Shop Pro, hold it in front of you with the direction you are facing at the bottom. Then, raise it above your head and you should be able to find your way around from there.


Moon phases

New-12/5_____First Quarter-12/13____Full-12/21____Last Quarter-12/27


Mercury is probably not visible most of the month. It switches from evening object to morning. Good luck!
Venus is brightening in the southest at dawn. Brightest on the 4th.
Mars disappears for a while.
Jupiter nicely placed all month. Sets near midnight.
Saturn is a great morning object-incentive to stay up late!

Meteor showers

The Geminids-active from 12/7-12/17 hit their peak on the 13th. With a ZHR of 120, these have been consistently great for the last few years, even better than the Leonid hype. Maybe not as bright, but much more frequent. I'll be outside for these, too.

Deep Sky Objects (DSO's)
Messier Objects

Open clusters M34, in Perseus and M45, the Pleiades in Taurus, are both very nice, especially at wide fields of view. Face on galaxy M77 in Cetus is similar to M77 in Pisces-more photogenic than visual. Although it's brighter, it still looks kinda fuzzy in a small scope. You can always wait for Orion to rise high enough to see. :-)

Named DSO's

The most obvious named object I think is the Double Cluster in Perseus. Known also as NGC 884 and NGC 869, these two open clusters are nothing short of spectacular in a wide field eyepiece. N869 is the brighter of the two, but 884 has these wonderful red stars in it.
The California Nebula is halfway between Zeta and Xi Persei. A patch of glowing hydrogen gas in the shape of the western state, I've never seen it unfortunatly. Maybe with a different nebula filter. ?

Here's the link to SEDS as promised.

January's page February's page March's's page April's page May's page June's page
July's page August's page September's page October's page November's page December's page

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Page URL: http://www.stonehavenobservatory.com/Dec.html

Copyright 1999, Steve Dodder
Webmaster: Steve Dodder
Revised: 7/21/10