Star By Night

December has arrived bringing the dark, clean skies of Winter

We start the month with the Moon in Waxing Gibbous phase. Already bright in the night sky, we lose many of the fainter stars, including the distant light from our closest neighbour, The Andromeda Galaxy. After, the Full Moon on the 8th day, the dark skies slowly begin to return with the Moon rising later each night and moving from Waning Gibbous, to Waning Crescent before returning to the New Moon phase on the 23rd day. The Geminids Meteor shower occurs annually, from the 19th November to 24th December. Unlike most meteor showers that are the result of debris from comets, The Geminids Meteor Shower is the result of an asteroid, 3200 Phaethon. This was very unusual, as never before had an asteroid been suggested as causing a meteor shower. It is still not known how material from the asteroid’s surface, or interior, is released into the meteoroid stream. There is a good chance of observing fire balls and different coloured meteors, hence why it is my favourite. The meteor shower peaks on the 14th, with the bright Moon rising at 23:43 so I would recommend this night as optimum viewing. Winter Solstice is on the 21st. Cultures all over the world will celebrate the shortest day of the year. Here, in Fuerteventura, it is believed that the ancient people would sit to observe the Sunrise over the sacred mountain. There are Planets visible all month. Jupiter is shinning as the brightest Planet, high in the night sky, with Saturn setting in the Western Sky and Mars rising in the Eastern. At the beginning of the month Venus is setting during the Blue hour and is difficult to observe but by the end of the month she will be easy to find in the Western Sky. Mercury is usually difficult to find, being small and so close to the Sun but try to find the Planet in the Western Sky during the Blue Hour. The Orion constellation is dominating the starry night sky with it's enroumous brilliant stars and Sirius is dazzling as the brightest star in the sky. December is spakrling this year with planets, nebula, galaxies and shooting stars! Look up!