D E C E M B E R S K Y W A T C H
by Maya del Mar
Again, most of our planetary drama is in the morning sky.
Saturn has the whole evening sky to itself. It rises in the east around 7:00 p.m., still in the company of the Gemini twins, Castor and Pollux. Sirius shines out brightly below it, and the grand constellation of Orion is below and to the right. Look for Aldeberan, the red Eye of the Bull, above Orion and to its right.
In the morning we can see Aldeberans opposite number in the sky, the red Antares in the constellation of Scorpio. Aldeberan and Antares are two of the four Royal stars.
A third Royal star, Regulus in Leobig and yellowis rising around 11 p.m. Saturn continues to rise, and by 1-2 a.m., it is overhead.
On December 26, the Full Moon stands directly above Saturn. On December 24, Cassini will release the European Space Agencys Huygens probe, into the thick atmosphere of Saturns moon, Titan.
Jupiter, the biggest planet in the solar system, rises about 3 a.m. It is in the constellation of Virgo, near the bright blue star, Spica, Virgos Harvest star, named for grain.
On the morning of December 7, many of us can see the Moon occult, or cover, Jupiter. It is rare to see a lunar occultation. It will be September 2016 before North Americans can see a Jupiter occultation.
The occultation occurs in the early morning, and is visible in eastern U.S. Along the edge of the path, in central United States, there will be only a partial occultation.
A few representative beginning times are
Kansas City 2:49 a.m.
Chicago 2:50 a.m.
Nashville 2:52 a.m.
Houston 3:06 a.m.
Pittsburg 3:53 a.m.
Washington 3:54 a.m.
Atlanta 3:55 a.m.
Boston 3:59 a.m.
Miami 4:15 a.m.
Disappearances last from about one-half hour to about one hour.