All information presented here is taken from my 74 page book Nightscenes 2019 which is available to order from our web shop and all good book stores!  A kindle version is also available from Amazon UK



Click on the monthly image to get a larger high resolution view of the night sky set for 53° N (Horncastle, England) but is usable for the UK and Eire.  All charts are set for the 1st of the month at 22:00 GMT (10pm) and can be used on the other dates and times shown in each corner of the chart.


December 2019




























































Solar System quick summary


For most charts see the buttons at the top for various planets etc.. Charts & images in the text can be clicked to give a larger view.


Jupiter slides into the solar glare and is lost mid month whilst Saturn follows it at the end of the month, but in doing so has a close conjunction with Venus on the 11th. Neptune, Uranus and Vesta are all well placed to view in the evening sky. Mars lies in the morning sky and has a close conjunction with Alpha Librae on the 12th. Mercury can be seen for the first two weeks in the morning sky below Mars then is too close to the Sun to view. The moon occults Eta Geminorum on the 13th. The Geminids meteor shower peak (14th) is spoiled by moonlight but the Ursids (23rd) are good to view all night as the radiant is circumpolar.




Main events


10-Oct-uranus-opp.jpgUranus was the last of the major planets to reach opposition this year and it did so on Oct 28th  and lies in Aries. It now shines at mag 5.7 and when the Moon is out of the way keen eyed viewers may be able to spot it without optical aid. In a binocular or small telescope it has a greenish hue which the author always finds useful when trying to spot it with a 10x50 binocular. From now until the end of the year Uranus will lie in the evening sky becoming easier as it rises earlier with each passing night. As this part of the sky is quite bland with few bright stars it should be easier to spot Uranus with the naked eye and binoculars. The four brightest stars on the chart above are similar in brightness and a little fainter to the planet and during November lie to the right of it. Uranus path until the end of the year is shown as it passes into this group of four which are shown with their magnitudes.


12-Dec-sat-ven-jup.jpgAs Jupiter slides into the solar glare and is lost by mid month, Venus improves, climbing higher in the evening twilight. In doing so it passes below Saturn on the 10th & 11th. The first chart (left) shows the view looking ~ SW at 4:45pm in bright twilight with the planets shown every two days except when Venus passes Saturn when they are shown daily for 3 days.


12-Dec-sat-ven-mn.jpg



The right hand chart shows the view from the 15th to the end of the month. As the ringed planet descends into the bright twilight it fades becoming harder to spot against the bright sky. Towards the end of the month, the crescent moon lies close to it on the 27th in very bright twilight then on the 28th / 29th the moon lies either side of Venus. With Jupiter and Saturn now gone, as we head into a new year, Venus will be the only bright planet on show with the fainter ice giants of Neptune and Uranus (mentioned earlier) along with minor planet Vesta all viewable in the evening sky.


12-Dec-mars-alpha-lib.jpgMeanwhile, in the morning sky, Mars is improving as it moves against the background stars of Libra. Mars closes in on Alpha Libra, common name Zuben Elgenubi, a nice double star in a binocular so it’s a good time to have a look at it. On the 12th Mars lies very close to the star for a grand view in binoculars and telescopes and a view simulating the view through an 80mm refractor with a 10mm eyepiece is shown here.






12-Dec-mars-merc-mn.jpg



Mars quickly leaves the star behind as it moves into central Libra. Because of the rotation of the earth, the stars are also climbing higher and at an apparent faster rate than Mars. So, although our chart (right) shows Mars moving down towards the left, that is because, to keep the chart simple, the motion of the sky to the upper right is ignored.

The crescent moon forms a shallow triangle with Alpha and Mars on the 22nd then on the 23rd the crescent moon lies on a  line between Mars and Gamma (g) Libra. The moon is 5x exaggerated for clarity and that at the start of the chart on the 8th, Mercury also lies in this part of the sky but quickly drops back into the solar glare.



12-Dec-nep-mn.jpgThere are always far too many things happening per month to include all of them in Nightscenes but the author always likes events when the Moon is near stars that we normally don’t bother looking at. On Dec 4th in the early evening around 6pm look for the First Quarter Moon towards the south as it lies several degrees away from Neptune. But nearer to the moon is a triangle of three stars that form a curve that hour with the Moon, Psi 1, 2 and 3 Aqr.  Psi 1 & 2  are magnitude 4.4 and Psi 3 is mag 5, Neptune is mag 7.9 and also in the view at right (10x50 binocular simulation)  is Chi at mag 5.2 and Phi at mag 4.4 so why not get the binoculars out and enjoy the view!







Also look out for the following:


   2nd  Crescent moon lies below Delta and Gamma Capricorni (evening)

   8th   Moon lies below Uranus (evening)

10th    Moon forms wide triangle with M45 and Aldebaran (evening)

11th    Moon rises to the left of Aldebaran (evening twilight)

13th    Moon occults Eta Geminorum (morning)

14th    Geminids meteor shower peak (unfavourable) /  Moon forms curved line with

    Castor and Pollux (evening)

15th    Moon lies to left of Delta & Gamma Cancri and M44 (evening)

16th    Moon lies above Regulus (late evening)

20th    Moon lies above left of Porrima as they rise (early morning)

21st     Moon lies to left of Spica (morning)

23rd    Ursids meteor shower peak (favourable - circumpolar)

24th    Slim crescent moon lies above Antares (bright morning twilight)

31st     Crescent moon lies between Delta Aquarii and Neptune (evening twilight)



Clear skies and happy sky watching.



Paul







Webmaster  © Paul L Money 2019


The UK & Ireland Night Sky for 2019

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The Winter Solstice occurs on December 22nd.


Winter officially begins in the Northern Hemisphere whilst Summer begins in the Southern Hemisphere.