Astrophiz 161: Dr Ian Musgrave’s December SkyGuide

Enjoy your regular monthly treat of viewing tips for all naked-eye celestial observers, telescopers, and astrophotographers from Dr @IanfMusgrave, amateur astronomer, molecular pharmacologist and toxicologist. 


Ian gives us all the viewing highlights and what planets to look out for in our morning and evening skies. This special month also brings you all 5 bright planets viewable in the dusk twilight and later in the evening, Saturn, Jupiter and Mars are bright beacons for the naked eye and easily examined in detail with binoculars and telescopes.

Mars is right in opposition now, being closest in its orbit to earth, nice and bright orange to the naked eye and a polar ice cap visible for those with telescopes. 

Get out there on 8 December for the best opposition view of Mars till 2033, despite the fact that Mars is lower in the sky and its light streaming through more atmosphere and summer air is dustier and more turbulent than winter viewing. Still a great view!

The first half of the month is the best time to observe the magnificence of Saturn.

So on any one night, start with Saturn, move to Jupiter and finish on Mars and from the 21st onwards, there’ll be some nice moon/planet conjunctions.

The Geminid meteor shower is usually pretty good, but this year the moon is sitting right on the radiant during the suggested peak time for the Geminids 😦

Best views will be for those up in Darwin on the 15th where the rate will be about one meteor every two minutes. 

In Ian’s Tangent …. Mars Quakes, meteor impacts, ejecta and subsequent glass tektites landing on earth, and how the blast from mighty rockets like the SLS and Saturn V can fuse sand into glass. It’s all linked by science.

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