December 7th: Observing With Webb in December 2012

By on December 7, 2012 in

Date: December 7th, 2012

Title: Observing With Webb in December 2012

Podcaster: Rob Webb

Organization: Physics teacher at Pequea Valley High School


Description: This podcast discusses the events, planets, and constellations that can be seen in the night sky during the month of December and prepare yourself for Geminid meteorshower.

Bio: Rob Webb is a physics, astronomy, and sustainability teacher at Pequea Valley High School in Pennsylvania. His passions include teaching, astronomy, astrophotography, planetariums, running, reading, and golf. A proud graduate of Dickinson College in 2005, he also obtained a Master’s Degree in Science Education from Penn State University after conducting research in regards to the current state of planetariums in Pennsylvania. Feel free to contact him at

Today’s Sponsor: This episode of 365 days of astronomy was sponsored by Clear Skies Observing Guides, a Modern Day Celestial Handbook. ..Clear skies observing guides, or CSOG, is a new concept in visual amateur astronomy. The observing guides contain thousands of objects to observe through amateur telescopes, with matching tours for GOTO telescopes and matching AstroPlanner plan-files. CSOG allows you to target deep-sky objects and carbon stars you never observed before, night after night. Wishing astronomers around the world: Clear skies..!


December’s got the strong Geminid meteor shower, some good lunar encounters, and a nice Christmas evening very close encounter between the Moon and Jupiter.

Last Quarter Moon – 6th (Visible from midnight into the morning)

10th – Close Encounter – Saturn & Moon – Get up before sunrise, look ESE, and if you have a good view of the horizon (and maybe binoculars would help) Saturn will be about 5˚ to the left of a very thin crescent Moon.

11th – Close Encounter – Venus & Moon – Get up before sunrise, look ESE, and you’ll see bright Venus about 2˚ up and to the left of the very thin crescent Moon.  Mercury might even be visible below and to the left of them.

New Moon – 13th (darkest skies)

13th, 14th – Geminid Meteor Shower – It’s a good year for the Geminids, which supposedly produce 120 meteors per hour, though you’ll probably see less, depending on your light pollution levels.  Still, this is one of the best of the year and definitely worth getting out for
Some advice for watching:
Find a dark location and lie down in a reclining chair or swimming pool floaty
Look toward Gemini (in the East). That is where the radiant is – where the meteors will appear to be coming from.  Keep a wide eye and try to take in the whole sky, instead of staring at one spot or through binoculars or a telescope.
Dress in multiple layers and bring hot chocolate
Check the weather to see if the skies will be clear ( has a good map here)
Adapt your eyes to the dark by staying away from light sources or using a red light if you need to look at a star chart or not trip over something.

14th-15th – Close Encounter – Moon & Mars – On the 14th, look SW after sunset (around 5pm) and find the very thin waxing crescent Moon low on the horizon.  About 8˚ to the left will be Mars.  The next night the Moon will be about 9˚ above Mars.

First Quarter Moon – 20th (Visible until midnight)

21st – Winter Solstice – Shortest day and longest night of the year for those in the Northern Hemisphere.  The world does not end.

25th – VERY Close Encounter – Moon & Jupiter – Jupiter will be about 1˚ to the left of the Full Moon.  Just find the Moon, and you’ll find Jupiter right there.  In fact, if you live in southern Africa or South America, you’ll be able to see the Moon occult (block) Jupiter.

Full Moon – 28th (Visible all night – East around sunset, West around Sunrise)

PLANETS…well, the ones visible with your naked eye
Planets you can see around Sunset – Mars (SW), Jupiter (E)
Planets you can see throughout the night – Jupiter (E to S to W)
Planets you can see in the Morning – Venus (SE), Saturn (SE), Mercury (SE)

Mercury – Look to the SE in the morning before sunrise.  Find Spica, Saturn, Venus, and Mercury all in a line descending in that order.  Close to the Moon on the 11th.

Venus – Not as high, but still a morning “star” this month. The brightest object in the morning East, will be lowest at 5:30am, rising up to about 20˚ by daybreak.  Closest to the Moon on the 11th.

Mars – In the SW after sunset, and sets around 6:15pm.  Look for the reddish-hued object only no more than 10˚ above the horizon.  Close to the Moon on the 14th and 15th.

JUPITER – Rises in the East after sunset and visible until about 6am. Close to the Moon on the 25th.  Use binoculars or a telescope to try to see the four Galilean Moons.  If you’re looking at Taurus in the morning, Jupiter’s the very bright one near the V of Taurus.

Saturn – Look SE in the mornings before sunrise.  Gets higher and higher every day and gets up to 35˚ above the horizon by the end of the month.  Close to the Moon on the 10th.

End of podcast:

365 Days of Astronomy
The 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast is produced by the New Media Working Group of the International Year of Astronomy 2009. Audio post-production by Preston Gibson. Bandwidth donated by and wizzard media. Web design by Clockwork Active Media Systems. You may reproduce and distribute this audio for non-commercial purposes. Please consider supporting the podcast with a few dollars (or Euros!). Visit us on the web at or email us at Until tomorrow…goodbye.

About Rob Webb

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  1. December 7th: Observing With Webb in December 2012 « Northern Lights Expeditions - December 7, 2012

    […] look ESE, and you’ll see bright Venus about 2˚ up and to the left of the very thin Source: 365 Days of Astronomy Posted in Northern Lights […]