Friday, 2 December 2016

THE DECEMBER SKY AT NIGHT

Dec 2016

Northern observers have both their main 'guides' on view. Orion attains a respectable altitude by mid-evening, and Ursa Major is well above the north-east horizon, even though the Great Bear does appear to be standing on its tail. Capella in Auriga is very close to the overhead point, which means that Vega is skirting the northern horizon and we have certainly lost the Summer Triangle, though in fact Deneb, like Vega, never actually sets over the British Isles. Cassiopeia is high in the north-west.

Pegasus remains visible in the west, though before very long it will start to merge into the evening twilight. Sirius has made its entry, and around midnight Leo appears over the eastern horizon. The Milky Way is at its best, running right across the sky from Cygnus through Cassiopeia, Perseus, Auriga and Gemini down to the horizon.

Southern observers lack Ursa Major, but Orion is excellently placed together with the Hunter's retinue; Achernar is close to the overhead point, and Canopus is also high and Pegasus well above the horizon. Capella is very low in the north, and the Southern Cross also is badly placed during December evenings. The Milky Way is superb, and so too are the Clouds of Magellan; it is sad that there are no comparable Clouds in the northern hemisphere of the sky.

moon

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