Podcaster: Rob Webb

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Title: Observing With Webb December 2022

Organization: Physics teacher at Pequea Valley High School

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follow me : @MrWebbPV on Twitter and Instagram

Don’t forget this podcast is found on my Podbean page, Stitcher, and iTunes.  There’s also a video version on my YouTube Channel and I can be found on Twitter and Instagram as @mrwebbpv. The Pequea Valley Planetarium and its events and updates are on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as @pvplanetarium.

Use a sky map from to help you out.


December ends the year on a high note, providing us glimpses of all the planets, the major ones being conveniently visible, an occultation of Mars, a modest meteor shower, and plenty of telescope targets.

Today’s sponsor:  Big thanks to our Patreon supporters this month: Rob Leeson, David Bowes, Brett Duane, Benett Bolek, Mary Ann, Frank Frankovic, Michael Freedman, Kim Hay, Steven Emert, Frank Tippin, Rani Bush, Jako Danar, Joseph J. Biernat, Nik Whitehead, Michael W, Cherry Wood, Steve Nerlich, Steven Kluth, James K Wood, Katrina Ince, Phyllis Foster, Don Swartwout, Barbara Geier, Steven Jansen, Donald Immerwahr

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December ends the year on a high note, providing us glimpses of all the planets, the major ones being conveniently visible, an occultation of Mars, a modest meteor shower, and plenty of telescope targets.

Welcome to Observing With Webb, where a high school astronomy teacher tells you what you’re looking at, why it’s so cool, and what you should check out later this month…at night. 

Naked-eye PLANETS


  • Saturn – Beginning the month about 30˚ above the horizon in the S, ending the month about 20˚ above the horizon in the SW. Fairly dim, but still brighter than all the stars around it.  About 40˚ to the right of Jupiter, and a bit lower.
  • Jupiter – SUPER bright in the S after sunset.  Just find the brightest point of light in that direction, and you’ve got it.
  • Mars – Look East early in the evening for a dull reddish dot in the sky, above Orion and between Taurus’s horns. 
  • Venus – Look SW after sunset. Venus is just starting a more than half-year-long period of sunset visibility this month.  It’ll be low on the horizon at the beginning of the month, and will gradually increase its height, but not by much.  See how early in the month you can find it by finding a clear view of the SW horizon at sunset. 

Throughout the night

  • Saturn & Jupiter – Starting off in the S, with brightest Jupiter on the left and dimmer Saturn about 40˚ to the right, these two march westward through the night, with Saturn setting around 10pm on 12/1, 8pm on 12/31, and Jupiter setting around 1am on 12/1, 11:30pm on 12/31.
  • Mars – Look East early in the evening, South around midnight, West in the morning in the first half of the month.


  • Mars – By morning, Mars will have moved to the W, and only visible in the mornings for the first two weeks.


Evening Gibbous (Mostly lit, after Sunset)

Full Moon – 7th (Visible all night)

Waning Gibbous (Mostly lit, rises later at night)

Last Quarter Moon – 16th (Visible midnight into the morning)

Morning Crescents (look East in the AM)

New Moon – 23rd (darkest skies)

Evening Crescents (look West after Sunset)

First Quarter Moon – 29th (Visible until midnight)

1st CLOSE ENCOUNTER – Moon, Jupiter – A waxing gibbous Moon is below Jupiter by less than 3˚.  Visible until about 1am.

7th OCCULTATION OF MARS BY THE MOON – Watch the Moon pass in front of Mars and make it disappear! has information for many major cities around the world, as whether you can see it and how much really depends on where you are. Much of North America and Europe will see this, however the southeast US will only see Mars pass below the Moon by fractions of a degree, which is awesome in its own right. In general though, you’ll see the Moon closest to Mars around 10:30pm this night.  If you are in the area that will see the occultation, that’s about when the Moon will cover it up, but look for more specifics online.

13th – 14thGeminid Meteor Shower – Not the best year, but at least the best hours for watching will be from sunset until about 9:30pm when the Moon rises, thus washing out the fainter meteors.  So get out there and take advantage of the possible 100 meteors per hour!  But be well prepared…

When? The peak is the morning of December 14th, 2am local time, but go out before 9:30pm. Commit yourself to staying out at least 20 minutes.

Where do I go? Dark area, away from lights, comfortable chair, pool float, hammock.

Where do I look? The whole sky, but note Gemini is where the radiant is – where the meteors will appear to be coming from. Gemini will be in the East after sunset, South after midnight, West in the morning.

Check the weather to see if the skies will be clear

BUNDLE UP! Far more layers than you think.

Adapt your eyes to the dark by staying away from light sources for 20 minutes or using a red light if you need to look at a star chart or not trip over something. 

If you’re feeling extra nerdy, do a scientific meteor count (S&T and IMO)

That said, you never know when a nice meteor will burn up, to take a nice look at the sky in general in the hours and days before and after the peak.

December 21stWinter Solstice – The longest night and shortest day of the year for the Northern Hemisphere. More info here:

24th CLOSE ENCOUNTER – Moon, Venus, Mercury – if you have a very clear look at the SW horizon, you might be able to catch a VERY thin Moon, with Venus about 6˚ to the right and very bright, and Mercury in between and above the two.  You won’t have much time, as they are low on the horizon and set around 5:50pm.

25thCHRISTMAS – A great selection for holiday stargazing! Maybe you can catch Venus and Mercury like you did yesterday, but the highlights to catch with your new telescope will be the thin crescent Moon in the SW, with Saturn nearby up and to the left, and Jupiter very bright halfway up the sky in the South.  Mars will be on the other side of the sky (E) almost in between Taurus and the Pleiades. And don’t forget to check out Andromeda!

26th CLOSE ENCOUNTER – Moon, Saturn – The crescent Moon is just 5˚ to the left of Saturn. Visible after sunset in the SSW, before 8:30pm.

29th CLOSE ENCOUNTER – Moon, Jupiter – A First Quarter Moon is to the left of Jupiter by about 6˚.  Visible until about midnight.


Use a sky map from to help you out.

After Dinner:

Cassiopeia, Andromeda, & Perseus -Look pretty much straight up you’ll be able to see Andromeda curving off of one corner of Pegasus. If your skies are decently dark, you might catch the faint fuzz that is the Andromeda Galaxy.  Cassiopeia will be relatively easy to find as the “W” in the sky, whose right angle points right to Andromeda and her galaxy.  Perseus is the other cornucopia-shaped constellation, but opposite of Andromeda, with its curves emptying out toward the Pleiades

Before Bed:

Taurus & the Pleiades – Look almost straight up, but down toward the South a little bit and you’ll find the lovely cluster of stars known as the Pleiades, the Seven Sisters, Subaru, or the mini-mini-dipper. You can easily see 5 or 6 of them with the unaided eye, and perhaps a 7th, depending on light pollution and your eyes.  To the left about 5˚ will be the V constellation of Taurus the bull, with bright red Aldebaran as its brightest, and one eye of the bull. Oh, and if you follow a line connecting these two to the left about 10˚, you’ll find Orion.

Before Work:

Leo – Look South, halfway up the sky, to find the backward question mark and right triangle that is Leo the Lion.

End of podcast:

365 Days of Astronomy

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