In the Sky this Month for SWFL.
If you are new to the night sky, and have an Android device, such as a tablet or phone, you can find a free app in the Google Play Store, called Sky Map. Sky Map will help you locate objects in the night sky.
In the Sky this Month
Moon: 1st Quarter – December 4; Full – December 12; Apogee – December 5; Last Quarter – December 19; Perigee – December 18; New– December 26.
Mercury is at magnitude -0.6, rising later and later during the month. It starts the month rising about 90 minutes before sunrise, declining to 60 minutes by mid-month. At this time it is 5° northeast of Antares. After just another day, Mercury is too low in the early light to be seen.
Venus (dusk-evening, Southwest) is in line with and between Jupiter and Saturn. Venus, at magnitude -3.9, is the star of the three-planet show. On the 6th, Venus is 5° southeast of Saturn, but they change places a week later, being ~2° apart. At this time, Venus shows as a 12” disk with 87% illumination. By the end of the second week, Venus and Saturn Venus and Saturn set 2 hours after sunset. Venus, Holtz’ “Bringer of Peace”, will continue to rise later in the month, and should provide good viewing in January.
Mars (pre-dawn – dawn, looking East-Southeast) rises < 3 hours before sunrise in the first few days of December, and > 3 hours by month’s end. Its magnitude increases from 1.7 -1.6. Its disk is 4”. It starts December ~20°above the horizon, and moves from Spica toward the head of Scorpius.
Jupiter (dusk – evening, Southwest) is 7° below and right of Venus, and moves to >15° below and right during the second week. At this point, it sets just 1 hour after sunset.
By midmonth, the -1.8-magnitude world is lost in the twilight, and is in conjunction with the Sun on he 27th.
The trio (Saturn, Venus, Jupiter) start the month about evenly spaced. In the second week Jupiter has doubled its angular distance from Venus and sets less than one hour after sunset.
Saturn (dusk – evening, Southwest) is in a line with Jupiter and Venus for the month, the line going from the upper left to the lower right, starting with Saturn, then Venus (10° below & right of Saturn), then Jupiter (7° below & right of Venus). They start the month about evenly spaced.
In the second week Jupiter has doubled its angular distance from Venus and sets less than one hour after sunset. At midmonth,
Saturn is 2° ENE of Venus, and is 15” wide with 35” wide rings. Saturn disappears from view before the end of the month.
Uranus, (South) highest after twilight, setting before midnight. See
https://is.gd/urnep for a finder chart.
Neptune, (South) highest at midevening. See https://is.gd/urnep for a finder chart.
International Space Station:
The Hubble Space Telescope will be visible early morning (5:40-5:42 a.m.) on the 1st. and the 10th at 7:03pm for a minute, from December 11-28, early morning in the 5-6:30
a.m. time frame, and the 7-8:30 time frame on the 30th & 31st. See this link for specific times and routes for the HST: http://www.heavens-above.com