The brightest stars of Aquarius, Alpha and Beta Aquarii, stand to the right of the Moon tonight. Both stars are supergiants that are nearing the ends of their lives. They shine at about the same temperature and color as the Sun.
Weekly Stargazing Tips
Unless otherwise specified, viewing times are local time regardless of time zone, and are good for the entire Lower 48 states (and, generally, for Alaska and Hawaii). Check out last week's tips if you missed a night.
The Moon is at first quarter today. Sunlight illuminates one-half of the Moon’s visible disk. After first quarter the illuminated fraction gradually increases until the Moon reaches full, which occurs on December 17.
Two "dog stars" rise in mid evening. The brighter of the two is Sirius, the brightest star in Canis Major, the big dog, and in the entire night sky. Procyon, the brightest star of Canis Minor, the little dog, stands well to the left of Sirius.
Capella, the brightest star of Auriga, the charioteer, is in the eastern sky this evening, high above the dazzling planet Jupiter. The yellow star arcs high overhead around midnight and is in the northwest at first light.
The Geminid meteor shower will be at its best the next few nights. Moonlight will overpower most of this year’s fireworks, but a few bright meteors should shine through.
Geminid Meteors II
The Geminid meteor shower is at its best tonight. At its peak, it should produce a hundred or so meteors per hour. The bright Moon will wipe out most of its fireworks, although a few should be bright enough to shine through the glow.
Hercules is low in the west at nightfall. A bright nova, which is an outburst from a white dwarf star, flared to life in the constellation in 1934. The nova may have helped inspire the origin story of Superman, who debuted four years later.