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Dec 4th: What’s Up Tonight! Southern Skies December 2015 Edition

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Podcaster: Alice Enevoldsen aka Alice’s AstroInfo

Alices-Astro-InfoTitle:  What’s Up Tonight! Southern Skies December 2015 Edition

Organization: Alice’s AstroInfo

Link : www.alicesastroinfo.com
Heavens-Above Starcharts for anywhere, anytime, not installation required
Stellarium Free planetarium-style program for your computer or tablet
7Timer – Clear sky charts (will it be clear enough for stargazing?). Input your location, then click on “ASTRO” in the pop-up.

Description: Presented as a counterpart to Awesome Astronomy’s Northern Hemisphere monthly forecast, Alice talks about what’s visible from the Southern Hemisphere. Focused at about 33°S, this forecast should work for anywhere between 25°S and 50°S

Bio: Alice Enevoldsen currently volunteers as one of NASA’s Solar System Ambassadors. She has been working in planetariums since 1996, has a B.A. in Astronomy-Geology from Whitman College, and a Masters in Teaching from Seattle University. Her fascination with the stars led her to try her hand at astronomy research in Boston and Walla Walla, where she realized that her calling in life was actually to work in outreach and be a translator for scientists. Now she works hard to share her love of the stars and excitement about astronomy with as many people as possible.

Today’s sponsor: This episode of “365 Days of Astronomy” is sponsored by — no one. We still need sponsors for many days in 2015, so please consider sponsoring a day or two. Just click on the “Donate” button on the lower left side of this webpage, or contact us at signup@365daysofastronomy.org.

Transcript:

Hello, I’m Alice Enevoldsen, coming to you not-so-live from Alice’s AstroInfo with a podcast about what’s up in the December 2015 skies … over the Southern Hemisphere.

How are you today?… I’m excited for the holidays and the new year. It’s going to be 2006 next year right? … no? … I apologize. I’m one of those folks who still can’t believe we’ve made it past 2010.

Top News and Sky Objects this Month:

Those of you in mid-to-northern Africa—Libya, Chad, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Somalia—have the opportunity to watch the Moon occult Mars on December 6th.

Midmonth, on December 13th the Gemenid Meteor Shower peaks. This will be a little less spectacular in the Southern Hemisphere but still visible in the middle of the night. Also, as the days get warmer it should be comfortable to stay out late watching for them. This is reputed to be the “strongest” shower of the year, but is often forgotten about by amateur watchers because it is so cold up here in the north. The Ursids, Quadrantids, and a handful of other showers are happening this month as well.

Solstice happens this month! Tuesday, December 22 at 3:48pm Sydney time is the moment of the solstice… also known as December 22 4:48am Universal Time. I encourage you to mark the location of where the Sun rises or sets in your locale. This will be the longest day of the year, but neither the earliest sunrise nor the latest sunset, those dates are slightly offset. This means the Sun will rise as far South of East as it ever does, and set as far South of West as any other time of year. I’ll be holding my quarterly sunset watch up here at the stoneworks in Solstice Park.

As I mentioned last month, comet C/2013 US10 (Catalina) is continuing to brighten up a bit. It’s predicted to be around magnitude 5 in December, which means you’ll still need a Telescope or Binoculars, unless you have very clear and dark skies. You’ll be looking in the southeast just before the Sun rises. It’ll be moving through the constellation Virgo throughout the month, and look like a fuzzed-out star.

For “Hey What’s That?” we have Sirius is up all night, high in the sky. Just before sunrise, Jupiter will rise, followed by Mars, the star Spica, and Venus. After Venus rises so does your chance at seeing the comet, but not for long, because then the Sun will show up, blasting away your chances at viewing anything else celestial.

Depending on exactly where you are, and you’ll have to be north of about 36S, Capella will be skating across the Northern Horizon. If you can see it, it is one of the flashiest stars to see near the horizon.

Let’s cover the Moon Phases, dates adjusted for Sydney, Australia.

The last quarter moon on December 3rd will be visible in the early morning sky.

The day of the new moon will be December 11th, the 5th day of Hanukkah, and on that day you won’t see the Moon at all, but a day before or after you might see a tiny sliver of a crescent Moon as the Sun rises or sets, and a few days outside of that the Moon will be up all day.

The first quarter moon, December 19th, is ideal for late afternoon and early evening observation.

The next full moon will be December 25th, Christmas Day. It rises around sunset, and sets around sunrise.

The next last quarter moon will be on January 2nd, and will be visible in the early morning sky.

The lineup of early Evening Constellations gains Gemini, Cancer, Hydra, Puppis, Pyxis, Vela and Antlia. Have I mentioned Orion yet? Orion is still dominating the skies this month, up all night, high in the sky.

You can download a nice Southern Hemisphere starmap from Skymaps.com.

Those of you with Telescopes, great targets abound. Along with the Magellanic Clouds and the Tarantula Nebula, you’ve got the Orion Nebula, and two of my three favorite targets: the Andromeda Galaxy and the Pleiades. For those of you without telescopes, I recommend digging a pair of binoculars out of your closet, or borrowing some from a friend, and taking a look at the Andromeda Galaxy and the Pleiades. You don’t need much magnification to notice an incredible amount more detail in the Pleiades, and with the additional light-gathering power of the binoculars you’ll be slightly more able to notice the Andromeda Galaxy—the farthest thing visible to the unaided human eye. You heard me right, this is THE FARTHEST THING you will ever see with just your eyes. The photons from the Andromeda Galaxy have been traveling two-and-a-half million years to get to your eyeball. That means those photons left their galaxy at about the same time that humans were first forming stone tools.

Well! Thanks for tuning in: I hope I gave you some things for which to keep your eyes peeled.
For those of you who haven’t listened before, I’m here as a foil for Ralph and Paul with Awesome Astronomy and their monthly 365 Days of Astronomy, International Year of Light podcast about what’s up in the skies over the Northern Hemisphere.

This podcast is based at 33°S: times and dates are given for Sydney, Australia. Most information will be good anywhere from about 25°S to 50°S, though you may have to adjust the time zone. This will include major cities in Australia, New Zealand, countries in Africa south of Mozambique and Namibia, as well as the parts of South America south of Paraguay.

I’ll add some of my favorite planning links to the end of the transcript for you as usual. If you have suggestions, things that you’d like me to add to the “What’s up Tonight, Southern Skies Edition,” you can e-mail me from my website!

Once again, I’m Alice Enevoldsen. You can find me online as AlicesAstroInfo on Twitter, Facebook, and www.alicesastroinfo.com. 

Bye! See you later!

Bye! See you later!

Useful Links:
Heavens-Above Starcharts for anywhere, anytime, no installation required
Stellarium Free planetarium-style program for your computer or tablet
7Timer – Clear sky charts (will it be clear enough for stargazing?). Input your location, then click on “ASTRO” in the pop-up.
Monthly Sky Guides from Sydney Observatory

End of podcast:

365 Days of Astronomy
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The 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast is produced by NUCLIO. Audio post-production by Richard Drumm. Bandwidth donated by libsyn.com and wizzard media. 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 365DaysOfAstronomy.org or email us at info@365DaysOfAstronomy.org. This year we celebrate cosmic light as light is our info messenger in the universe. Join us and share your story to celebrate the International Year of Light. Until tomorrow! Goodbye!

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